Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me1006 (posted Jan. 12, 2001)"
January 12, 2001
Letters to the Editor
401 North Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
To The Editor:
Some can only see the bad news. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), cited in a recent article, ("Census: 28.3 million foreign born," January 3) fits that description. The good news, which the article ignores, is that immigrants who entered the U.S. during the 1990s can be credited with helping create and sustain our current economic boom. These same immigrants also are improving the viability of Social Security and Medicare, and are getting educated and learning English more quickly than past generations of immigrations, and buying homes at a faster rate than other waves of immigrants.
The 1990s did see 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 expansion 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 immigrants help keep our economy strong. Kenneth Prewitt, the Census Director, recently noted that immigrants also are helping to sustain the economic viability of Social Security and Medicare, which would be in much worse financial shape without the contributions from immigrants because the U.S. would have more retirees receiving benefits than younger people working and contributing to the systems.
Interestingly, the very same Census Bureau statistics CIS cited also show that recent immigrants are catching up educationally much more rapidly than even government demographers thought possible. Many immigrants 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.
As the data reveal, 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 which ignores the positive contributions of immigration and immigrants.
Mark S. Davidson
Mr. Davidson, a partner at the law firm of Davidson & Schiller, is President of the Greater Chicago Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.