The Effect of Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the United States



The problem of immigration has been a controversial issue in the United States, particularly the issue of illegal immigration. Therefore, immigration can be defined as the act of immigrating/moving to another country, meaning that one moves to another nation, where he or she was not born, or where he or she is not a native of; thereby, using the new nation as a permanent residence either legally or illegally. Therefore, this essay presents that immigration (both legal and illegal) is good and leads various benefits to a nation, including fostering economic growth, contribute to labor markets, and contributes to taxes as well as social contributions; though, it can sometimes harm the economy in a number of ways including contributing to terrorism activities and depletion of the country’s resources.


Main Discussion

 There are different reasons why a person would want to move /migrate to another nation. One of such reasons would be for religious freedom. People can also move to other countries in search for opportunities. In particularly, in the United States, there are many employment opportunities, which people can find and work. Many people from other nations strongly believe that migrating to America will offer them employment opportunities. Next in the list of reasons, includes survival reasons. Whereas some argue that immigration is not good and has the potential of harming the United States, others people believe that immigration is good and has to be encouraged. Whereas Jacoby answers “yes” to the question of “Does Immigration Increase the Virtues of Hard Work and Fortitude in the United States,” Krikorian objects Jacoby’s idea and instead, argues that immigration is depletes the resources of a country. In the article “Five Myths about Immigration,” Cole argues that the United States has received and benefited from many immigrants since 1800s. In Booth’s article entitled, “Immigration Threatens America’s Unity,” he says that before the late 1900s the greatest immigration wave contributed to a bitter backlash (epitomized by the return of Ku Klux Klan and Chinese exclusion, which targeted blacks, Catholics, immigrants, as well as Jews.

 Immigration improves economic growth as well as development of the United States’ economy. In essence, immigration can be used in order to spur the economic as well as innovation of the United States; therefore, increasing the nation’s human skill repertoires. Moreover, legal immigration has both the direct and indirect effects on the United States’ economic growth. There are no doubts that legal immigration into the United States expands the nation’s workforce in addition to increasing its aggregate Gross Domestic Product. Foremost, legal and illegal immigration presents a demographic influence, not only through increasing the size of the country’s population, but also by transforming the age pyramid of the country. Many of the immigrants often tend to be of younger as well as economically active age groups compared to U.S natives; thus, reducing the rates of dependency among the United States youths.

 Notably, many of the illegal and legal immigrants come with diverse skills as well as capabilities; consequently, supplementing the stock of human capital of the United States. More explicitly, there is evidence that skilled immigrants often boost research as well as innovation levels, and technological progress, which helps the United States to develop and grow further. In his article, Jacoby agrees that immigration is important and contributes significantly into the development of a nation. According to Jacoby, “majority of the immigrants usually work harder as compared to the native and America born citizens (p.3).” Undeniably, many of these immigrants (both legal and illegal) do not rely on the government benefits and work very hard, despite different conditions that they encounter in efforts to make a living. It is evident that immigrants’ efforts not only gives them a living, but also contributes into the economic development and growth of the United States. However, Krikorian does not seem to agree with Jacoby’s idea, but argues that immigrants do not add to America’s national total work ethic or output.

 Legal and illegal immigration is important because it improves the labor markets in the United States. There is proof that over the few years, immigrants have represented approximately 47 percent of the increase in the workforce in America. Furthermore, the education status of many of the immigrants varies significantly in that younger immigrants tend to be more learned. For example, since 2000, immigrants have represented over 21 percent of the increase in the highly educated labor force in the United States. This comprises of the health care occupations and areas including technology, science, and engineering. In addition, immigrants often do jobs that are mostly concentrated in production, maintenance as well as repair and installation. Specifically, in all these areas, immigrants fundamentally fill labor needs through taking up jobs, which are regarded by domestic workers as being unattractive. Besides, through taking such jobs, immigrants help in contributing into the labor markets of the United States. Similarly, immigration also contributes to taxes and social contributions into the United States economy. Recent studies on the fiscal impacts of immigration for all the European OECD nations as well as the United States indicate that the impact of cumulative waves of immigration that arrived over the last 50 years is close to zero and rarely exceeds 0.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in either negative or positive terms. Thus, immigrants are not a burden to the United States’ public purse. Furthermore, immigrants contribute much more in terms of taxes as well as social contributions when compared to what they receive in terms of benefits. This is a clear suggestion that immigrants significantly contribute to the financing of the United States public infrastructure, though to a lesser extent as compared to their natives.

 However, immigrants may also serve to harm the unity of the American society. For instance, Booth argues that prior to the late 1900s “the last great immigration wave produced a bitter backlash, targeted blacks, Catholics, Jews, as well as immigrants as well” (76). According to Booth, immigration may be very harmful, especially in areas where it threatens the peace as well as unity of Native Americans. Cases of terrorism have also been linked to both legal and illegal immigrants into the United States, which have led to far reaching effects, particularly on the economy of the United States (Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity: Program Materials). Moreover, with increased levels of both legal and illegal immigration, the resources of United States also remain threatened, since huge numbers of people depending on particular resources can lead to depletion of these resources.


 Both the legal as well as illegal immigration leads to positive and negative effects on the economy of the United States as indicated in the above discussion. Negative effects include increased terrorism cases and depletion of resources, while on the positive site, legal and legal immigration may spur the development of the United States economy.