Immigration to the United States, 1820-1860: 1840s-1850s: German & Irish immigration increased dramatically.
Fear of Immigrants is ubiquitous • In 1846, the last Governor of Mexican California warned “We find ourselves threatened by hordes of Yankee immigrants who have already begun to flock into our country and whose progress we cannot arrest.”
Need for Labor during WWI • In 1942 the Bracero Program, a guest worker program, was instituted.
Bracero Program continues after the War • "More than 80,000 braceros pass through the El Paso Center annually. They're part of an army of 350,000 or more that marches across the border each year to help plant, cultivate and harvest cotton and other crops throughout the United States".(El Paso Herald Post, April 28, 1956)
Then our neighbors were no longer welcome… In 1964, after 4.6 million contracts were signed, the Bracero program ended.
Changes to Immigration Policy Immigration Acts of 1924 National origin quotas based on 1890 census Immigration Act of 1965 Preference for immigrants with family members already in US
After the Immigration Act of 1965 • 1970: Immigrants from Canada and Europe made up 63% of total immigrants • 2000: Immigrants from Canada and Europe made up 13.6% of total immigrants; whereas 32% of immigrants came from Mexico.
Perceptions of Recent Immigrants • They are flooding into our country. • They crowd the schools which leads to a higher dropout rate for native born students. • They don’t pay taxes. • They are the main contributor to higher health costs. • They bring down wages for the native born. • They don’t assimilate. • They contribute to the wage gap between high and low skilled workers.
Latino immigration a tidal wave? “Mexican immigration is not a tidal wave. The rate of undocumented migration has not increased in over two decades. Neither is Mexico a demographic time bomb; its fertility rate is only slightly above replacement.” “Seeing Mexican Immigration Clearly” Douglas Massey Sociology professor, Princeton University http://www.cato-unbound.org/2006/08/20/douglas-s-massey/seeing-mexican-immigration-clearly/
Taxes paid by Undocumented workers $50 billion/year federal tax revenue including $6-7 billion/year in Social Security $1.5 billion/year in Medicare (NY Times 4/5/2006) Sales tax Gas tax
Health Care • Immigrants receive about one half the health care as native-born Americans. • Immigrants (documented and undocumented) account for 18% of the costs associated with the uninsured that taxpayers generally pick up. (Washington Post, 7/25/2006)
Wage analysis • Low skilled native-born are not affected much by the influx of immigrant labor. • Overall immigration has shown to have a net positive effect on the vast majority of Native-born Americans. (David Card, “Is New Immigration Really so Bad,” January 2005)
Assimilation? • Of foreign born Latinos, 72% use Spanish as their primary language. • Of Native-born Latinos, only 4% use Spanish as their native language • In the 3rd generation, 71% speak English only at home and 97% identify themselves as American. • In California, 55% of immigrants who arrived before 1980 own their own home. (Loren Lee)
Wage Gap? Immigration accounts for a small share (5%) of the increase in U.S. wage inequality between 1980 and 2000. David Card & Andrei Shleifer, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 1-21, May.
Questions to consider… • Why do we allow undocumented workers to enter our country and work illegally? • Who benefits from this? • Does it make economic sense to deny people in this country illegally health care? • What about education?