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Letter to the Editor Re: "Growth Driving By Immigrants"

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 01010859 (posted Jan. 8, 2001)"

January 8, 2001

Letters to the Editor
The Sacramento Bee
P.O. Box 15779
Sacramento, CA 95852

To The Editor:

Some people objectively report statistics, while others find only the negative facts and report those. Judging by his recent column ("Growth driving by immigrants," January 7), Dan Walters is in the latter category. The column does not note a single positive contribution of either immigration or immigrants, such as 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 the immigrants who entered this country during the 1990s are adding to our population. There also is no disputing 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. Once again, there is little dispute that —to paraphrase Census Director Kenneth Prewitt— Social Security and Medicare would be in much worse financial shape without those immigrants, since without them the U.S. would have more retirees receiving benefits than younger people working and contributing to the systems.

Mr. Prewitt recently noted 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.

Finally, there is little dispute that U.S. citizens moving from the Northeast and Midwest are causing much of the population in the Southwest. The Census Bureau reports that 1.7 million Americans moved into the Arizona, New Mexico and Utah area from other states during the 1990s.

Rather than focusing solely on the criticisms of immigrants and immigration, Mr. Walters might have mentioned the positive accomplishments: 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,

Christine Brigagliano

Ms. Brigagliano, a partner at the law firm of Van Der Hout & Brigagliano, is Chairwoman of the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.