Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 01021259 (posted Feb. 12, 2001)"
February 12, 2001
Letters to the Editor
The Boston Globe
135 William T. Morrisey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3338
To The Editor:
A recent article focusing on the Census Bureau count of undocumented immigrants did not touch on the positive economic benefits to our nation of both documented and undocumented immigrants ("Impact of the undocumented; Study cites boom in the job rolls," February 6).
The U.S. has reaped many benefits from recent immigrants. For example, they are helping sustain our economic boom and are improving the viability of Social Security and Medicare. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and other economists say these newest immigrants are helping sustain our historic economic growth. Kenneth Prewitt, the former Census Director, recently said that Social Security and Medicare would be in bad financial shape without those immigrants, because without them the U.S. would have more retirees receiving benefits than younger people working and contributing to the systems.
Here in Massachusetts, immigrants are filling jobs at all skill levels. A study last year by Citizens Financial Group and MassInc noted that an increasing percentage of the states professionals are immigrants. Commenting on the study, Lawrence Fish, the chairman of Citizens Financial Group, noted that without immigrants, many Massachusetts companies would have been forced to lay off workers or pull out of the state. Mr. Fish concluded that, "our economic prosperity in Massachusetts is strong because of, not in spite of, foreign immigrants. Our economy depends on them."
While Mr. Fish was addressing high-skill jobs, immigrants are equally important when it comes to essential work. The Federal Reserve Board has repeatedly reported a severe and widespread shortage of needed workers, particularly in the service and hospitality sector. Leading economists have testified before congress that these shortages will continue for the next 20 years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortage of approximately 8 million workers by the year 2006. The same BLS study also predicts that half of future U.S. jobs will require a college degree or greater, while the remaining half will need a high school degree.
Your article would have been more complete had it noted that employers will continue to need essential workers, that experts predict a shortage of workers lasting at least two decades, and, as a result, this country will continue to need immigrants. Unfortunately, there currently is no law that would allow these people to reside or enter the U.S. legally. This situation has to change. Immigrants perform jobs that would otherwise go unfilled. They help our state. They contribute to our economy.
Mr. Silverman, a partner at the Boston law firm of Ross, Martel & Silverman, is Chairman of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.