Immigration has long been an integral part of the American story. Millions of women, men, and children have left their homelands to make America their new home. Reform of the immigration system is currently taking place, and in the debate about the flaws of our current immigration system, many have spoken against granting amnesty to the undocumented immigrants who live in our country, or even against offering them a path to citizenship. However, statistical evidence shows that immigrants bring both cultural and economic wealth to this country. There are political, social, and moral reasons for us to truly reopen our doors to the world.
Despite their ideological differences and party allegiances, both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush support open immigration.
The two recently commented on the need for immigration reform. Bush spoke at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential center in Dallas, saying, “the laws governing the immigration system aren’t working. The system is broken. We’re now in an important debate in reforming those laws. .... I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate, and I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and we understand the contributions that immigrants make to our country.”
President Obama’s White House released a report in support of immigration reform that stated, “America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our work force vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world.”
That economic engine is fueled by immigration. According to a report from the Partnership for a New American Economy, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were either founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. The report also notes that, “Many of America's greatest brands – Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric, IBM, and McDonald's to name just a few – owe their origin to a founder who was an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.”
In addition to CEOs, six presidents had at least one parent who was an immigrant to the Unites States; Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, James Buchanan, Chester Arthur, Woodrow Wilson, and Herbert Hoover were products of immigrant families
Many people are concerned about the costs of immigration, but their fears aren't grounded in fact. A 2009 report by the CATO Institute notes that such arguments are “not supported by the social and economic trends of the past 15 years." Rather than creating a drag on the economy, immigrants provide economic benefits to the American government. The Center for American Progress cites a study by UCLA professor Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda that found that if the United States implemented modern immigration reform with a path to citizenship, the country's GDP would “increase by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, a total boost of 0.84%.” According to Hinojosa-Ojeda's work, immigrant wages would bring in $4.5 to $5.4 billion in new tax revenues, and increased consumption would result in the creation of 750,000 to 900,000 jobs.
We must reform and open the immigration system of the United States. One of the main reasons that this country is great is that accepts people from all over the world, documented and undocumented. There are a number of undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for years. Although they may not be recognized as Americans by the law, they are Americas by heart. Let them work, build, strive, drive, dream, live, eat, sleep, succeed, and win. In the process, they will literally repay the favor.