America is made up of people from many different cultures and from many different countries. However, the one thing everyone shares is that, no matter what country we or our parents or our grandparents came from, we are all Americans. We are a nation of immigrants. This reality has helped to mold our national character. For more than three centuries, different ethnic, cultural and social groups have come to the shores of America for many and varied reasons. Many have wanted to be with their families. Others have come to seek economic opportunity. Still others seek to find safety from religious and political persecution. In the end, each person has brought unique hopes, dreams and contributions to this land and we are all the better for it.
Regardless of the contributions, energy and enrichment that immigrants bring to this country, the immigrant population continues to be the target of slander and negative accusations. The widespread acceptance of these slanderous myths has resulted in harsh and punitive immigration laws.
One such myth is that immigrants take jobs away from Americans. Studies have shown that this is absolutely not true. In fact, immigrants create jobs. Many immigrants are self-employed in businesses that they have started themselves. These small businesses account for 80% of new jobs available each year in the United States. In addition, more than 10% of the U.S. workforce are employed by foreign companies doing business in the U.S.
Another myth is that immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy. This, also, is untrue. According to studies, immigrants collectively earn $240 billion a year and pay $90 billion in taxes. Compared to the native born population, immigrants are more likely to be employed, to save more of their earnings and to start new businesses. Non-refugee immigrants of working age are also less likely to be on welfare than natives.
Immigrants respect the law at least as much as native born Americans. In fact, they are less likely than natives to be confined to a state prison. Of the five states with the most immigrants, including California, four of those states has a smaller share of immigrants in its prisons than in its general population.
Immigrants are just as likely as natives to hold college degrees. They are twice as likely as native to hold Ph.D.’s Immigrants contribute to every level of society. They are teachers, doctors, lawyers, letter carriers, waiters, gardeners, police officers, fire fighters. They are friends, neighbors and family. They get green cards through family sponsored petitions, employment based petitions, diversity visas, refugee applications. They come with green cards, temporary visas or no visas. They come to take care of their families and to be Americans. As the holiday season approaches, from one American to another, I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Holiday.