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Letter to the Editor by Laura Lichter

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 00071958 (posted Jul. 19, 2000)"

July 5, 2000

Letters to the Editor
The Denver Post
400 West Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80204

To The Editor:

Corine Flores’ allegations in her piece (“Illegals take jobs from Americans,” July 2) ignores some key facts.

Among those ignored facts are: immigrants are the key to our continuing unprecedented economic expansion; and restricting immigration could stifle business expansion plans, hurt the profitability of American businesses, and call to a halt our nation’s continuing economic growth.

According to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on the economic and policy implications of immigration, “Immigrant labor has been an integral part of the current economic boom,” and that the new Americans “change the skill mix of workers and feeds further [our] economic expansion.” Even more importantly, the Dallas Fed found that immigrants are helping to keep the Social Security and Medicare systems solvent. The Fed, in its latest Survey of Economic Conditions (known as the “Beige Book” because of its cover), also finds severe worker shortages across the economy, and reports that these worker shortages “would be ever more severe in the absence of inflows of immigrants.” In its review of current economic conditions, the Fed found that worker shortages are beginning to hit home and hurt our economy.

Ms. Flores also neglects to note that the Census Bureau has reported that, even with immigrants, the U.S. still will have less than one-quarter the population density of Great Britain; hardly something about which Americans should worry. In addition, the level of immigration as a percentage of the total U.S. population is about one-third lower than it was during the early 1900s, and the immigration level is now lower than it was just two decades ago.

Blaming immigrations for our educational, environmental and crime problems is misplaced. While Ms. Flores tries to draw a correlation between immigration and scholastic declines, quite the opposite is true. During the 1990s (the very decade that she claims saw “incredibly high rates of immigration”), America saw the highest-ever rise in college placement exam scores. Contrast that to the 1960s and 1970s, when immigration was lower and college entrance test scores fell by 2.3 points. Our environmental challenges are caused by our behavior. Who is to blame for our dirty air: immigrants or Americans and our love of the car? Who’s to blame for urban and suburban sprawl: immigrants or America’s culture of the shopping and strip malls? Finally, every study shows that the crime rate is dropping dramatically, and has been for the better part of a decade.

The important issues of immigration would have been better served had Ms. Flores included those facts in her piece.


Laura Lichter

Ms. Licther, a partner in the Boulder law firm of Lichter Korkin & Associates, is the Colorado Chapter Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.