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Immigration And Its Effect On The United States' Economy

1524 words - 6 pages

Immigration and Its Effect on the United States' Economy

The 1990s have brought the largest influx of immigrants into labor force of the
United States of any decade in this nation's history. A panel of social science
scholars concluded their assessment of U.S. society with the observation that
"America's biggest import is people" and determined that "at a time when
attention is directed to the general decline in American exceptionalism,
American immigration continues to flow at a rate unknown elsewhere in the world"
[Oxford Analytica 1986, 20]. Unlike earlier mass immigration periods to the
United States the present day wave of immigration to the U.S. show "no sign of
imminent decline" [Bouvier 1991, 18]. "In today's world setting, international
migration is a discretionary action that is regulated by the specific actions of
the governments of individual nation-states." There is no international
obligation for any nation to allow others to enter or to work, in fact, most
nations do not admit immigrants for permanent settlement.

Mass immigration has played a significant role in the economic history of the
United States, nevertheless the harsh fact is that what may be necessary and
beneficial at one time, may not be so at another. The demand for labor is being
affected by "restructuring forces stemming from the nature and pace of
technological change; from the stiff international competition the United States
that now confronts for the first time in its history; from major shifts in
consumer spending away from goods toward services; and from the substantial

In the national defense expenditures brought about by the end of the Cold War in
the early 1990's". (vernon m. briggs,jr. and stephen moore. pg 35.) In looking
toward the future the twenty occupations projected to grow the fastest in the
1990s, half are related to the growing computer and health fields. The shift to
a service based economy is leading to an upgrading of the skills and education
required by the labor force. On the other hand the occupations that require
minimal skills and education have declined and are presently forecasted to
continue to do so. Immigration can be useful in the short run as a means of
providing qualified workers where shortages of qualified domestic workers exist.
But, the long-term objective should be that these jobs should go to citizens and
resident aliens. "The 1990 Census revealed that the percentage of foreign-born
adults (25 years and over) who had less than a ninth grade education was 25
percent (compared to only 10 percent for native-born adults) and whereas 23
percent of native-born adults did not have a high school diploma, 42 percent of
foreign-born adults did not. Immigration, therefore, is a major contributor to
the nation's adult illiteracy problem. On the other hand, both foreign-born
adults and native-born adults had the same percentage of persons who had a
bachelor's degree or higher (20.3...

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