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Letter to the Editor written by Jack Pinnex.

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 00071857 (posted Jul. 18, 2000)"

June 28, 2000

Letters to the Editor


To The Editor:

Ron Woodward’s letter (“It’s illegal, after all,” June 26) missed the opportunity to debate the real issue: that America’s highly regulated immigration system has become unworkable largely because it is outdated. As currently structured, it does not reflect the current needs and realities of American families and businesses, and places families, employers and employees in a bureaucratic morass of regulations and red tape that means years of frustration.

For instance, the current immigration policy does not help with employment-based immigration. Yet, as numerous independent economic studies over the past three years have noted, the U.S. is in the midst of at least a 20-year-long worker shortage. As a result, our need for employees from other countries is higher than at any time since World War II. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently told Congress that the nation’s labor shortage is “the greatest threat” to our record-long economic expansion. As a recent Federal Reserve study noted: “Immigrant labor has been an integral part of the economic boom.”

Further, immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, provide needed economic benefits for all Americans. A recent economic study found that “immigrants free up natives” from lower-paying jobs, allowing the skill and income level of American workers to rise. The study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas also found that: “The more different immigrants are, regardless of whether they have lower or higher skills than natives, the bigger the economic gains.” Consumers, for example, benefit directly from immigration when they consume goods and services produced by immigrants. Many inner-city neighborhoods are being revived by immigrant enclaves, the increase in immigrant-owned businesses and greater demand for housing.

Even more importantly for the long-term economic benefit of all current American workers, immigrants help maintain the solvency of pay-as-you-go retirement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The reason is simple: immigrants are over-represented in the 10-34 age range. This influx of younger, working age people expands the labor force at precisely the same time as workers who were born during the post-World War II baby boom are retiring or getting ready to retire. As a result, immigrants slow the ongoing decline in the ratio of workers to retirees.

These facts should be acknowledged before anyone unwisely draws a hard line in the sand against immigrants.


Jack Pinnix