The Impact of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Economy

The United States has always been perceived as the land of opportunity, a place where people can achieve prosperity and move up financially. People around the world have been attracted to that and would come here whether it was legally or illegally. People might of came to visit with a visa and overstayed their visit, came by boat, or crossed over. Both in the past and today, United States citizens have expressed concern that immigration lowers wages and that new arrivals fail to adapt to society.

Illegal immigration to the United States has a great impact on the American economy and society overall.

During the 2016 presidential election President Donald Trump vowed to protect American jobs and improve national security by making our borders stricter and adding more security. That has played a major factor in intensifying the debate over immigration’s impact on the economy. “Many politicians and workers argue that immigrants – legal and illegal – undercut wages and take jobs from nation-born workers.

They also contend undocumented immigrants burden society with welfare, medical, and education costs.” (Maynard). Immigrants fill jobs people usually do not want to do like home building, landscaping, or dishwashing. Immigrants also bring diversity and skills. Some immigrants that have done amazing things live in the United States that includes Elon Musk (co-founder of PayPal and pushed for electric cars), Sergey Brin (helped develop Google), and Shahid Khan (owner of NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars), to name a few.

On January 25th, 2016, President Trump signed an executive order to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border to keep migrants from crossing over.

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Two days later he signs another order, blocking immigration from seven predominantly Muslim Middle East countries. A month later, the Department of Homeland Security started a more aggressive approach to arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants. People supporting this believe they are protecting the country’s security and that it will provide more jobs. Americans and businesses that rely on immigrants for innovation and keep operations flowing made their voices be heard. According to Maynard, when a federal judge implemented parts of Trumps order on refugees and travel, more than 100 chief executives from technology and other companies filed with the Ninth United States Court of Appeals, arguing the so called “Muslim ban” the president ordered violated the United States Constitution and would badly hurt their businesses.

Randy Wootton – CEO of Rocket Fuel – argued that the backbone of this engineering team is from overseas and not having access to that talent would be a disservice to American business. (qtd Maynard). Even with that said some people say undocumented immigrants take from Americans and cost state, local, and federal governments billions of dollars. Those expenses can include education, healthcare, and welfare benefits. Stephen Bannon stated “Twenty percent of this country is immigrants. Is that not the beating heart of this [unemployment] problem?” (qtd. Maynard). According Steven Camarotta, in 2015 there were 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans than in 2007 working, while 2 million more immigrants were working in 2015. (qtd. ProCon). That does look bad, but what if the immigrant had better qualifications then the native born American? Or what if the people without a job did not try and look for one? Many factors could have played in that data.

Illegal immigrants contribute and help our society whether it is with construction, cleaning, maintenance, or agricultural occupations. Even in these types of work not everyone is illegal. About 46 percent of native-born Americans work in those occupations. “There are 65 occupations in which 25 percent or more of the workers are immigrants. In these high-immigrant occupations, there are still 16.5 million natives.” (Camarota, Steven, Jason Richwine, Karen Zeigler). That right there is proof that illegal immigrants are not taking our jobs; American citizens still have jobs. People might say illegal immigrants are criminals, but not everyone is like that. Native born Americans can be criminals as well. It does not matter where you are from or what color you are. People can be good or bad. Of course it is hard to tell who is good and who is bad, but that is why law enforcement should tackle situations like that ethically and punish the criminals. Just because one person from a specific ethnic group does something bad, it does not mean everyone from that ethnicity/country is like that and they should not be branded for one person’s mistake.

“Knowledge, entrepreneurship, and technology are the driving forces of a dynamic economy. Two reliable ways to generate ideas and innovation in an economy are to increase the number of highly-educated workers, and introduce diversity into the workplace.” (Pethokoukis) Pethoukis is right, illegal immigrants could bring the skills we need to boost our economy and invent new things. According to Pethokoukis, about 60 percent of workers in computer and mathematical sciences are immigrants with a science or engineering doctorate. Not only that, but in Silicon Valley 64 percent of engineers are foreign born.

States like California that have cities willing to protect immigrants had to have a federal judge issue a nationwide injunction to block an order Trump made to deny federal money to sanctuary cities. (Karaim). There way of fighting this was stating that the Trump administration had no power to withhold money to local governments. It is insane what lengths they went to try an punish those that helped immigrants. According to Karaim, United States immigration agents in Texas forcibly separated an asylum-seeking Honduran mother and 18-month son. Earlier I stated that law enforcement needs to do things ethically, this is an example that is not. To build the border wall it estimated to range from 8 billion dollars to 70 billion dollars, not counting for the maintenance every year, which can range from 150 million dollars per year to 750 million dollars per year. Would that not be a big hit to our economy? That money can be used for education, healthcare, social security, charities, helping the homeless, veterans, anyone in need, etc.

On February 16, 2017, “Day Without Immigrants” occurred, in which shops and restaurants nationwide closed for the day. The goal was to show what would happen if the United States were to lose large numbers of foreign-born residents in a crackdown on illegal immigration. Janet Marguia states “From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.” (qtd. Maynard). That is true in my eyes and many others. Immigrants whether illegal or legal bring just as much to the table in helping our economy as a native born American. They are here to live the American dream and find a better life than their home country. Apples CEO Tim Cook said, “In my conversation with officials here in Washington this week, I’ve made it clear that Apple believes deeply in the importance of immigration – both to our company and to our nation’s future.” (qtd. Maynard).

According to Maynard, countries like Canada and Australia have come to understand the economic advantage of attracting immigrants, and have upped their efforts to attract the top talent from around the globe. That is something the United States should learn from those two countries. We should not keep out talented people that might be trying to come here. I am not saying we should not have strict laws – of course we need rules – but we should not put fear on people and discriminate. Maybe one day we as a society can learn to accept immigrants, whether illegally or legally, because they do affect our economy in a positive way. They bring new skills and diversity to the table. They help our business and country flourish just as much as native-born Americans.

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The Impact of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Economy. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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