Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me1030 (posted Feb. 14, 2001)"
February 14, 2001
Letters to The Editor
Los Angeles Times
202 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-4105
To The Editor:
A recent editorial on your pages ("Firmer Case on Immigration Costs," February 8) completely ignores the economic contributions to California that immigrants and immigration have made and continue to make.
The University of Southern California recently issued a study of the demographic future for the state, which concluded that immigrants "promise many benefits to society," including the fact that "the upward trend in poverty will be reversed because of these immigrant changes." As a result of those changes, the study notes "that poverty has begun to fall and will continue to do so in the decade ahead. Immigrant fortunes have turned a corner for reasons that are deep-seated and longer lasting than the temporary effects of the current economic boom." Neither that study nor its findings were mentioned in your recent editorial.
Another point left out of the editorial is the enormous economic contributions of both documented and undocumented immigrants. 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 be vital.
That is especially true for Social Security and Medicare. 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.
A balanced editorial about the costs of immigration would have mentioned that immigrants have made important economic contributions to California and our nation: they pay taxes, helped create the economic boom of the 1990s, are essential to ensuring our economic vitality, and are vital to the well-being of our retirement systems.
Mr. Wexler, a partner in the Newport Beach law firm of Hirson Wexler Perl & Stark, is the Southern California Chapter Chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.