Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me1004 (posted Jan. 12, 2001)"
January 12, 2001
Letters to the Editor
The Arizona Republic
200 East Van
Phoenix, AZ 85001
To The Editor:
Judging by his recent column ("Immigration sparks fears of new Appalachia,"
January 8), Jon Kamman looks at a Picasso and only sees a distorted perspective,
not the wonderful art. Like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Mr. Kamman
cannot accept good news about immigrants.
The good news, which went unreported in the article, is that the immigrants
who entered the U.S. during the 1990s are helping sustain out economic boom.
These same immigrants also are improving the viability of Social Security and
Medicare, and are learning English sooner, getting educated quicker and buying
homes at a faster rate than other waves of immigrants.
There is no disputing the fact that, in terms of raw numbers, the 1990s saw
the largest influx of immigrants in history. However, immigrants still make up a
lower percentage of the population than they did 100 years ago. The 1990s also
saw the largest, most-sustained economic boom in American history, the lowest
unemployment rate in nearly 40 years, and the lowest interest rates in nearly
half-a-century. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and other economists say
these newest immigrants are helping sustain our historic economic growth.
Immigrants also are helping to sustain the financial viability of our benefit
systems. Kenneth Prewitt, the Census Director, recently noted that without the
immigrants of the 1990s, the Social Security and Medicare systems would be
suffering because the U.S. would have more retirees receiving benefits than
younger people working and contributing to the systems.
The very same Census Bureau statistics cited by Mr. Kamman also show that
recent immigrants are catching up educationally much more rapidly than even
government demographers thought possible. Many immigrants, including Hispanics,
have advanced and intermediate education. The data also show that the pace at
which immigrants learn English is accelerating, and that approximately 67% of
recent immigrants own homes. Many more are marrying U.S. citizens.
To those who allege that immigrants contribute to urban sprawl and population
growth in the Southwest during the 1990s, the Census Bureau shows that
immigrants settled in 10 major cities, seven of which actually lost population
during the decade. The data also shows that a large number of U.S. citizens, 1.7
million, moved into the Arizona, New Mexico and Utah area from other states
during that decade.
Recent immigrants are helping our economy and our taxpayer funded retirement
systems. They are learning our language and customs faster than previous
immigrants, are better educated than earlier immigrants, and are homeowners. But
you would not know that from reading the CIS report or Mr. Kamman’s article,
both of which ignore the positive contributions immigration and immigrants have
made and will continue to make to our country.
Ms. Duran, an attorney at Streich Lang, is President of the Arizona Chapter
of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.