The Brookings Institute is a non-profit think tank based in Washington D.C. that provides independent research and innovative, practical policy recommendations. The Institute’s Hamilton Project, launched in 2006, which focuses on research and policy proposals to grow the U.S. economy, and has recently release a report about the economic facts of immigration. In their effort to ground the current immigration debate in the best available evidence, the Hamilton Project has published a helpful pamphlet called “Ten Economic Facts About Immigration”. The publication offers helpful, clear information about the economic effects of immigration, summarized here.
1) Today’s immigrants come form more diverse backgrounds than a century ago: in 1910, immigrants from Europe and Canada were 95% of the foreign-born population in the United States, but today immigrants hail from a much broader range of countries.
2) Immigrants bring a diverse set of skills and education: immigrants today are both better and worse educated than U.S.-born citizens. The U.S. immigrant population has both a higher proportion than U.S.-born citizens of people with advanced degrees and people with less than a high school education.
3) On average, immigrants improve the standards of living for Americans: Academic research suggests that immigrants on average boost wages and lower prices for American workers.
4) Immigrants are NOT a net drain on the federal budget: Taxes paid by both legal and undocumented immigrants exceed the costs of the services they use.
5) Both immigration enforcement funding and the number of unauthorized immigrants have increased since 2003: Although the United States has dramatically increased spending on border security, evidence shows it has been ineffective in curtailing the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, with that number continuing to rise between 2003 and 2007.
6) Immigrants do NOT disproportionately burden U.S. correctional facilities: Census data on correctional facilities and mental hospitals shows that U.S.-born citizens are five times more likely than immigrants to be institutionalized.
7) Recent immigrants reflect America’s melting pot: Data collected on recent waves of immigrants and their children showing consistent rates of integration and assimilation.
8) The skill composition of U.S. immigrants differs from that of other countries: The United States does not allot a large percentage of visas for employment-based immigration, unlike countries like Canada or New Zealand.
9) Immigrants start new businesses and file patents at higher rates than U.S.-born citizens: Immigrants are 30% more likely to form a new business than U.S.-born citizens and among those with advanced degrees immigrants are three times more likely to file a patent.
10) America is issuing a declining number of visas for high-skilled workers: Many of today’s international students studying in the United States either plan to leave the United States or are uncertain about remaining, potentially causing reverse brain-drain.
LIRS applauds the efforts of groups like The Brookings Institute that seek to educate the public on issues like immigration so that together we can use our knowledge to create a more just and humane immigration system. Join us on Twitter, or Facebook. Visit our homepage. To learn more about our immigration advocacy work, visit the LIRS Stand for Welcome.