The effect of immigration on the U.S. economy

As President Barack Obama mulls over the possibility of taking executive action to address the country’s immigration crisis, the Economic Policy Institute released information on the myths that have been associated with undocumented immigrants and the U.S. economy. Here are a look at five effects immigrants have on the economy:

  1. The report by the Economic Policy Institute found that less than half of the country’s immigrants are Hispanic or Latino. According to the research, 18 million of the more than 40 million immigrants living in the U.S. are Hispanic. The majority of undocumented immigrants in the country are Hispanic, most of whom came to the U.S. in 2008. The report noted that there are just as many undocumented immigrants from South and East Asia as from Central America, and there were more undocumented immigrants from Canada and Europe who fled to the U.S. than from the Caribbean.
  2. Immigrants in the U.S. contribute 14.7 percent to the U.S. economy but only make up 13 percent of the population. The Economic Policy Institute reported that immigrants account for 16 percent of the country’s labor force, including 18 percent of small business owners.
  3. There is a stigma that immigrants only have low-wage jobs, however, the Economic Policy Institute found that that statement is false. There are almost as many immigrants working higher paying jobs as any other occupation. What many people don’t realize is that 46 percent of immigrants have some sort of college education, again refuting the idea that they are uneducated and are only employed in lower paying jobs. Also, immigrants are part of the lower-, middle- and upper-classes. Undocumented immigrants do not take jobs away from Americans, contrary to the argument presented by those against providing these individuals with a pathway to citizenship. The organization found that although some evidence suggests immigrants may take jobs from Americans in the short run, once the economy adjusts to new immigrants this is no longer the case.
  4. The Economic Policy Institute’s report stated that there are several costly consequences to deporting undocumented immigrants. First, transporting these individuals back to their home countries costs money. Second, while undocumented immigrants sometimes benefit from government programs, they also give back to the economy by spending the money they earn from work and the programs from which they receive assistance.