ImmigrationReforms’ Benefits on the US Economy
Immigrationis one of the most debated issues in the American society over theyears. Immigration reforms have evolved into a basic economic, socialand political issue in America today. There is a growing consensusamong the economic elites that immigration reforms will positivelyimpact on the United States economy. In this regard, the term“immigration reforms” is generally used to describe the politicalsuggestions and proposals to decrease illegal immigration while atthe same time increasing legal immigration. Being a prosperousnation, America attracts a big number of immigrants who are lookingfor improved life. However, it is estimated that there are overeleven million illegal immigrants living and working in the UnitedStates. These immigrants enter America illegally without using theappropriate immigration channels or extend their visas after movinginto the United States legally. The immigration reform specificallyfocuses on ensuring that the over twelve million undocumentedimmigrant workers in the US are given amnesty and legal document orshipped back to their countries. Studies conducted have shown thatimmigration reforms which include allowing legal immigrants to cometo United States and legalization of the undocumented immigrantswould lead to a number of economic benefits to the nation. However,some groups of individuals are skeptical about immigration reformsand the economic effects of the increased number of immigrants. Thereare credible and solid economic arguments that have been raised forand against both illegal and legal immigration into the United States(Borjas,2011).This paper discusses the benefits that the United States gets fromthe immigrants after enacting the immigration reforms. The paper usesthe structural functionalism theory to explain the function ofimmigrant in the United States economic and social structures and howimmigration reforms will positively impacts on the American economy.
Immigrationin the United States and its role in the society can be analyzedbased on sociological theories. However, sociologists differ in theunderstanding of different concepts on issues affecting the society,including immigration and society. Sociological imagination and therole of imaginative thought are essential in answering sociologicalquestions relating to immigration. Sociological imagination alsoenables the sociological analysis to be based on certain outcomes ofa sociological phenomenon. For example, immigration will havedifferent outcomes depending on the social contexts, period ofimmigration and status of immigrant among other factors. Sociological imagination therefore enables a researcher to think ofimmigration and immigrant from an alternative point of view, otherthan focusing on one perspective, for example illegal immigration(Michele, 2010).
Thisresearch paper is based on the structural functionalism theoreticalframework. The American society is a complex system consisting ofsocial parts working together. The American society is a diverse andcomplex society that provides opportunities for all kinds of people.The basic social structures within the society have an impact on thecomplex system. Structural functionalism analyses the society basedon the basic elements. This research paper is based on the view thatimmigration and immigration has some functions in the society. Thisincludes social functions as well as economic functions. It is oftenportrayed that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants have anegative impact on the American society and economy. However, basedon structural functionalism view, immigrants have played an importantfunction in shaping the United States. Although there are somenegative impacts of immigration in the United States, functionalistsbelieve that immigrants have an essential function in America. TheUnited States is an immigrant country, where majority of Americanshave immigrant ancestry in their kinship linage (Michele, 2010). Thisresearch paper will look at the benefits of immigrants in the UnitedStates based on their function in the economy based on how it impactson different aspects of the American economy, which includes thegross domestic product, labor markets, social security, housingsector and agricultural sector.
Impactson Gross Domestic product
Thereare over eleven million undocumented immigrants living and working inthe United States. The American social, economic and politicalprosperity has been facilitated by the ability of the nation toattract immigrants from different parts of the world. A hugepercentage of the American gross domestic product is as a result ofthe high number of immigrants living in the country. Some economistshave argued that immigration reforms that will streamline immigrationinto the country and document the illegal immigrants can increase thegross domestic product by up to one and half trillion dollars. Thisis due to a combination of factors including putting all immigrantworkers as a level playing ground by granting them legal status andrights as workers. Currently, business entities are taking theadvantage of undocumented workers in the country who offer cheaplabor and less demand for labor rights. The level playing groundcreated by immigration workers will push the wages for both nativeborn and immigrant workers. This will create a virtuous circle wherethe living conditions of the immigrants will be improved thusincreasing the consumer purchasing power and thus a rise in the grossdomestic product (Thomas,2009).
Theimmigration reforms will result to more economic growth since it willincrease the number of high demand employees in the United Stateslabor force, capital investment and overall productivity of theAmerican economy. Immigrationreforms will in the long term result to increased real wages due tothe increase in efficiency of capital and labor provided by theimmigrant workers. The technological improvements due to the influxof highly skilled immigrants into America as a result of immigrationreforms will result into advancements in the processes of productionand new inventions. This will assist greatly in increasing the GrossDomestic Product for the United States in the long term. The grossdomestic product is dependent on the productivity of the generalpopulation. If there is no system that would reverse the situation,the aging American population will decrease the productivity of theAmerican population and thus reduce the gross domestic product(Thomas,2009).The immigration reforms will provide a solution to the labor forceparticipation which has been drooping as the generation of babyboomers retires with lower rate of participation of the native peoplein the labor market. Immigration reforms will increase the number ofindividuals in the working age, relative to the retired workers, andthus increase the productivity of the population. Immigration reformswill therefore increase the labor force of the United States by 3.5percent or six million workers by the year 2023, and five percent ornine million workers by the year 2033. The increased labor forceparticipation from the immigrants will improve capital investment.This will in turn result into increased average wages and higherproductivity. This will ensure a sustained higher productivity whichin turn will guarantee a continued growth of the United Stateseconomy (Executive Office of the President, 2013).
Impactson the labor market
Althoughthe impacts of immigration reforms are mainly viewed negatively, ithas positive impacts on the labor market and employment creation.This is because of the perception that immigrants will diminish theavailable job opportunities in the American society. Increasedmigration into the American society increases the number of foreignborn workers in the labor market. Studies in the recent past haveindicated that immigrants have huge impacts on short term and longterm employment status of the native born Americans, total output perworker and the average income per worker in the labor market.Additionally, contrary to the general view, immigration of foreignborn workers is driven by the demand and supply of labor in themarket. This means that there are no significant impacts ofimmigration on the employability of native born America. Immigrationreforms will increase the effectiveness of the labor market forces byincreasing the supply of foreign born workers required in theAmerican job market. Also, the labor market absorbs immigrant workersby creating more opportunities rather than replacing native bornworkers. Immigration reforms will also streamline the labor market byeliminating the high number of undocumented workers in the Americanlabor market. It is estimated that there are millions of illegalimmigrants working in the American labor market. Immigration reformswill eliminate limitations that force individuals to more into theUnited States using unorthodox means. It is also important to notethat the demand for highly skilled and specialized workers in theAmerican job market is relatively high compared to the demand.Immigration reforms which include allowing skilled immigrant’sspouses to work in the United States will act as a pull to skilleddoctors, scientists, computers and structural engineers in theAmerican labor market (Thomas, 2009). The economic implication ofthe immigration reform found that the arrival of immigrant especiallythe very skilled ones will result to task specialization, increasedinnovation and creation of job opportunities. It is estimated thatthe immigration reform bill would raise the America’s overallproductivity in the year 2023 by 0.7 percent and by one percent inthe year 2033 (Executive Office of the President, 2013).
Impactson the social security
Accordingto Lee and Miller (2000), immigration reforms which will increase theinflows of legal immigrants into the United States will positivelyinfluence the social security system in the United States, and thusthe economy. The United States social security financial future willbe secure through the enactment of the immigration reform asimmigrants will make their contributions through payment of payrolltaxes to the Social Security Trust Fund. The baby boomers generationin the United States is reaching retirement age and thus an agingpopulation. This has been coupled with increased cost of health caredue to emerging terminal diseases. This will negatively affect thesocial security in the United States. Generally, immigrants are verydifferent from American born individuals in terms of age, culture,language and fertility. Majority of immigrants move into the UnitedStates at a relatively young age compared to the natives. Thesecharacteristics have a positive impact on the general characteristicsof the American population. Younger members of the society arehealthier, more productive and have greater contribution to thesocial security system compared to aged individuals. By increasingthe number of young and more productive individuals in the UnitedStates through immigration, social cost and the cost of basicservices such as security and defense per individual will be lesssince it will be spread within a larger group (Lee and Miller, 2000).
Sincemost the legal immigrants are young, energetic and healthy, getadditional new immigrants will lead to increase in the proportion ofhealthy workers and the aging population in the retiring age. Theincorporation of these immigrants in the United States labor forcewill result to increment of the overall taxes paid thus strengtheningthe social security fund. In addition, these young immigrant workerswill assist in offsetting the retiring or the aging United Statespopulation and also offer supply financially to the social programsof the United States. This is especially beneficial to the UnitedStates because most of the retiring generation of Baby Boomer willregister in Medicare and Social Security in the next two decades andthis will result to great financial challenges on these veryimportant social programs. However, it is important to note that thisfunction of the immigrant in the American economy is dependent on theeffectiveness of the immigration reforms adopted which will ensurethat the influx of immigrants will have economically beneficialimmigrants and reduce illegal immigrants who are less likely tocontribute to the social security system. Additionally, reconsideringthe status of the illegal immigrants in the United States by grantingthem amnesty and legal document will also increase the contributionto the social security while making them eligible. Actuaries haveargued that rather than negatively affecting the social security,immigration reforms will have positive impacts on the social securitysystem (Lee and Miller, 2000).
Impacton the housing sector
Foreignborn individuals living in the United States have an important rolein the housing sector. It is estimated that about 14 percent of allhouseholds in the United States are owned by immigrants. Immigrationreforms will therefore have a huge impact on the housing sector. Inthe recent past, the housing sector in America has suffered from oneof the most important challenge in history. The collapse of thehousing bubble in the late 2000s led to one of the worst economiccrisis since the great depression in the 1930s (William & David,2013). Enactment of the immigration reform will help to strengthenthe housing market recovery through increased prices and higherdemand for homes especially in the neighborhoods which had beenadversely affected by the economic recession. As the Americanimmigrants strive to attain the housing patterns in the new world,there will be a dramatic recovery on the American housing sector.Increasing the number of new immigrants with economic value into theUnited States will increase the demand for housing and thus apositive impact on the sector. It is estimated that the over fortymillion immigrants who are presently living in the United States havehelped in creating of housing wealth worth over 3.7 trillion dollars.Immigration reforms will document the illegal immigrant in thecountry. Their new legal status will enable them to acquire creditand own homes. Increasing the incomes of the immigrants will expandtheir purchasing power which in turn will increase the housing demandthus strengthening the housing sector in the United States.Immigration also acts as a tool for neighborhood sustainability andas underpin to changes in demand for certain housing types. Theimpacts of immigrants on the housing market are influenced by thestatus and context in which the immigrants arrive. For example,immigrant maintains the demand of houses that have been vacated bynative born individuals with greater choices of houses (Clapham,2006).
Boostingthe United States agricultural sector
Agricultureis one of the most important sectors of the economy. Nonetheless, itis one of the sectors which will be hugely affected by immigrationreforms. This sector particularly depends on the immigrants forlabor. Recent figures indicate that about 48 percent of workers inthe agricultural sector are undocumented. Changes in the immigrationlaws will therefore have a huge impact on the sector. Lack of laborfrom the immigrants would cause a lot of losses for the farmer andranchers in United States thus affecting the agricultural sectornegatively. Lack of immigrant workers who provide semiskilled andunskilled labor in the farms may result into shut downs inplantations. Immigration reform will increase the number ofimmigrants in America who will provide a legal and stable labor forcein the agricultural sector thus increasing the total agriculturaloutput (Zahniser et al, 2012). Over the years, there have beenreported cases of labor shortages in the agricultural sector in somestates in America. Although shortages have been reported during peakseasons when the labor demand is high, it is a recurring challenge inthe sector. This has been as a result of tighter law enforcementstrategies adopted by the states governments as well as the federalgovernment. The labor trends indicate that immigration plays acritical role in the agricultural sector. Therefore, immigrationreforms that will increase the influx of documented semiskilled andunskilled labor will effectively stabilize the labor market in theagricultural sector. It is also important to note that the improvedeconomic conditions in Central America, especially Mexico have had anegative impact on Mexican migration into the United States. To avertlabor crisis in the American agricultural sector, sound immigrationreforms are necessary (Zahniser et al 2012).
Inconclusion, efficient and successful enactment of the immigrationreform is beneficial to United States because it causes economicrevitalization. Debate on immigration reforms have mainly focused ondealing with the immense problem of illegal immigrant. The influx ofimmigrants following implementation of the immigrant reforms resultsto increment of the United States general population especially thosewho are of working age to participate in the labor force. Theseimmigrant workers assist greatly in expanding the American economy,contributing in the well-being of the American society. Sociologistshave divergent views on basic issues such as immigration. Althoughthere are several sociological theories that can effectively explainand analyses the role of immigration reforms in the American economy,structural functionalism gives a better perspective. The analysisfocuses on the structural functions of immigrants in specific facetsof the economy. Although there are skeptical views about immigrationreforms and how immigration is likely to affect the American society,there are positive functions of immigrants in the American society.In general, immigrants have and will continue to benefit thedifferent aspects of the economy through provision of cheap labor,expertise and countering the effects of the aging Americanpopulation.
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