Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 01020159 (posted Feb. 1, 2001)"
February 1, 2001
Letters to the Editor
Las Vegas Review-Journal
1111 W. Bonanza Road
Las Vegas, NV 81906-0070
To The Editor:
Ken Ward is just plain wrong ("Aliens and the teacher shortage," January 31). Immigrants are helping sustain our economic boom and improve the viability of Social Security and Medicare, as well as educate our children. Senator Reid is smart. He understands the centrality of immigrants to our economy and society.
There is a nationwide teacher shortage. Many school districts around the country, including Chicago and Fairfax County (VA), are using immigrants to help alleviate that shortage, and are hiring temporary foreign teachers with special skills for particular programs, such as special education aimed at helping children with cerebral palsy, language emersion classes or specific scientific lectures. These localities, and others like them, are hiring temporary foreign professionals to teach our elementary, high school and college students.
Despite Mr. Wards railing, immigrants still make up a lower percentage of the population than they did 100 years ago. During the 1990s, the U.S. absorbed large numbers of immigrants, and 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. These same immigrants that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said helped sustain our historic economic growth now will be key to ensuring that our economy continues to expand, albeit at a slower rate.
In addition to helping our economy, 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.
To those who, like Mr. Ward, 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 desert South West from other states during that decade.
Immigrants are helping our economy and our taxpayer funded retirement systems. They are teaching our children. Mr. Ward either does not understand, or merely ignores, the positive contributions that immigration and immigrants have made and will continue to make to our country.
Mr. Ashman, an immigration lawyer, is a partner in the Las Vegas law firm of Ashman & Lin.