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Letter to the Editor Re: Polarizing Debate on Immigration Policy?

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 01011159 (posted Jan. 11, 2001)"

January 11, 2001

Letters to the Editor
The Bergen County Record
150 River Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601-7155

To The Editor:

Andrew Shephard cites outdated data in his recent letter ("Polarizing Debate on Immigration Policy?," January 7), and thereby ignores the economic and social benefits of both immigration and immigrants. For example, he does not report 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.

Immigrants who entered this country during the 1990s are adding to our population. But Mr. Shepard does not note that during the 1990s, the U.S. had the largest, most-sustained economic boom in 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. Mr. Shepard also omits the recent comments of Kenneth Prewitt, the Census Director, who said that Social Security and Medicare would be in much worse 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.

Mr. Shepard finally overlooks recent Census Bureau data showing 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.

As Mr. Shepard accurately noted, the press needs to fairly represent the contributions of immigration and immigrants. And the data clearly reveal that 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 other groups, and are homeowners.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Alper

Mr. Alper, a partner at the law firm of Harold Alper & Alper, is Chairman of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.