Commentary: Anti-immigration mindset counterproductive to US growth
By Raymond Mendoza
People's Daily app

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In recent years, there has been a growing social trend of anti-immigration in the US – fueled by some citizens' fear of terrorists and drug dealers running amok in the streets. However, having grown up in Southern California, I can attest that immigrants are the life-blood of the US since they bring progress, innovation, and diversity to all areas of the country.

Diversity in Southern California is evident in each of its cities, and in my life, I’ve seen immigrants from all over the world settle into the US and prosper as business owners, academics, artists, professional journalists and beyond.

Yet, there is a sentiment among some individuals, and some government officials, that immigrants hurt the US.

During the last 15 months, the US has seen two major changes in immigration: the travel ban for several Muslim-majority countries and the planned phasing out for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (dreamers).

While both are being executed under the pretext of “national security” it’s obvious that these acts will hurt the US since immigrants have shown to yield a positive effect on the country.

According to a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine – immigrants who came to the US from 1990 to 2010 produced net benefits worth $50 billion a year to the native US population. Meaning that despite being seen as lazy or dangerous: immigrants have helped the US’ economy.

Studies also show that immigrants are the backbone of America’s workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, foreign-born people outpaced US native born workers in construction and extraction, computers and mathematics, production, food service and preparation, life, physical and social sciences, transportation and material moving, architecture and engineering.

And finally, according to a 2010 report by the Small Business Administration, immigrants are roughly 10 percent more likely than nonimmigrants to own a business. It seems that keeping immigrants out of the US would hurt the country’s growth for entrepreneurship and various workforce sectors – which would have a negative effect on the US economy.

There’s an old maxim that the US is a nation of immigrants and that’s obvious when considering the creation of the US since seven of the 39 men who signed the US Constitution were immigrants. Most notably, founding father and the US’ first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant from the West Indies. Also, several of the US’ original supreme court justices were immigrants from England, Scotland and Ireland.

These immigrants are responsible for many noteworthy accomplishments, including the framing and drafting of the US Constitution, helping establish of the First Bank of the United States, creating governing laws for North Carolina, and even founding the New York Post newspaper.

The impact of immigrants doesn’t stop there, as many famous foreign-born individuals made America their home over the years, such as physicist Elbert Einstein, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. If not for these immigrants alone, the US would have lost out on some of the greatest talent in the realms of science, journalism and politics.

Furthermore, these individuals only represent a fraction of immigrants in the US, since most are just hard-working individuals who live normal lives. These immigrants might not be national icons, but they help built roads, teach school children, and create new inventions. In short, they help run the US.

This trend of anti-immigration is seen as counterproductive compared to other countries, who are instead opening up their borders like China, Canada, and Australia.

In March, China set up a new immigration administration under the Ministry of Public Security to increase the number of immigrations working and living in the country. It is also improving its services for visas and green card applications. Several Chinese cities are offering cash incentives to foreigners living in China who make valuable contributions to China. This tactic could attract the next Einstein, Pulitzer, Albright and beyond.

The Canadian government recently vowed to welcome nearly 1 million immigrants into its country through 2020. Besides letting in skilled workers and sponsored family members, Canada also said it aims to take in nearly 138,000 refugees during this time as well.

Australia has shown it is welcoming to immigrants, as it plans to accept 186,500 by the end of 2018. Australia is also known for actively encouraging foreign students to visit with its study abroad programs and is welcoming more than 18,000 refugees in 2018-2019 alone. According to a 2016 census, 26 percent of Australia’s population, which is more than 6 million people, were born overseas.

For a long time, the US has been seen as the land of immigrants. However, other countries have begun establishing more pro-immigrant policies in recent years, leaving people to ask: what happened to the US’ title as the free?

Historically, anti-immigration policies have been seen as narrow-minded and fly in the face of progress. Immigrants have given so much to the US foundation and its prosperity that it would be foolish to close itself off from such amazing prospects.