Do Immigrants Harm Our Nation?

You can receive an E-mail each time a new post is added to this site by clicking “Follow” to the right of this post. You can comment on this post by clicking “Comment” just below the title of the post.

Boyce JPEGAccording to the Pew Research Center, 51% of Americans think immigrants are good for our nation because of their hard work and talents. 41% of Americans think immigrants are bad for our country because they take our jobs and health care.

The Pew Research Center also reports that twice as many Blacks as Whites say that illegal immigrants should be eligible for social services by 43% vs. 20%. and 79% of African Americans think children of undocumented immigrants should be permitted to attend public schools. But, 34% of Blacks feel that immigrants take jobs away from American citizens, rather than take jobs that Americans don’t want. They also fear that immigrants are making it harder for African Americans to get health insurance.

So which opinions are true? Actually both answers are at least partially true.

A report from the George Mason University Institute For Immigration Research had this to say on the subject. “As part of our research on the accomplishments of highly-skilled, foreign-born academics in the United States, we found that foreign-born scientists and engineers are over-represented among U.S. Nobel Laureates.

From 1901-2013, out of all the countries in the world, the United States, at 42.4%, received the highest proportion of Nobel Prizes. Moreover, 30.7% of these U.S. awarded Nobel Prizes are garnered by persons who immigrated to the United States.

From 1901-2013 more than one-third of U.S. Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, medicine and physics were immigrants. Also, a report from the National Foundation for American Policy, a conservative research group, shows that, since 2000, two dozen immigrants won Nobel Prizes in those fields, out of 68 U.S. prizewinners overall in these sciences.

This year, Dr. Aziz Sancar, an immigrant from Turkey, was one of three scientists who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. He and the other two, discovered how cells in people repair their DNA. Another scientist who was not a prize winner said the discovery may help doctors to treat cancer, and the effects of aging, more effectively.

Also this year, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology was given to Dr William Campbell and two other scientists. They were awarded the prize for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites. Dr. Campbell was born in Ireland but now lives and works in the U.S.

Parasitic roundworms can live on or in humans where they can cause a variety of health problems. Most parasitic roundworm eggs or larvae (immature form) are found in the soil and enter the human body when a person picks them up on the hands and then transfers them to the mouth. The eggs or larvae also can enter the human body directly through the skin.

A third of Silicon Valley’s scientists and engineers are immigrants. Forty percent of Ph.D. scientists working in the U.S. are foreign-born. This nation is getting significant benefits from them. Allowing immigrants to come here is in our best interest.

But do immigrants take jobs from US born citizens?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of November 2014, there were 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans working than in November 2007, while 2 million more immigrants (legal and illegal) were working. Thus, all net employment gains since November 2007 have gone to immigrants. Presumably, if fewer immigrants had gotten those jobs, native born Americans would have gotten them.

Are immigrants taking health care away from US born Americans? It is hard to be sure, but a study done by the Center For Immigration Studies found that the percentage of immigrants with no health insurance (28.9%) was roughly twice that of native born Americans (14.0%).

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 12% of Whites, 17% of Blacks, and 26% of Hispanics lack health insurance. Those who oppose immigration to this country seem mostly to be thinking of Hispanics from Mexico and other Latin American countries. The above percentages suggest that, if these immigrants are a force to deprive native born Americans of health insurance, they are a pretty weak force,

So are immigrants bad for this country. It is a mixed bag, but on balance, I think welcoming immigrants is good for this nation.


3 thoughts on “Do Immigrants Harm Our Nation?

  1. One difficulty in an analysis that covers all of 20th century is the lack of distinction between European based immigration and Latin/South America immigration. Another distinction is the education level, and thus presumably skill level, of immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. Such an analysis would probably lead towards an exploration of xenophobia (e.g., Irish, Russians, Mexicans) in various decades. My intuition is that U.S. immigration standards have been more open to the potential Nobel Laureate than the low wage laborer. We seem to have a high standard as to which huddled masses will find an open gateway to the USA.


    • Hi Chuck. You are probably right that there is a bias against admitting Latino immigrants and especially those with little education and no evidence of valuable skills. But that can be a mistake. Consider the following. Even immigrants who look unpromising can bring major benefits to this country. For example, during World War Two, an Italian born child Mario Capecchi and his mother were separated when she was sent to a concentration camp. She survived and found her child in an Italian hospital. With assistance from his uncle, Mario and his mother came to the U.S. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007
      Or consider the fact that in 2010, an estimated 96,000 young adults without legal status held at least an associate’s degree or higher, according to a report from the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. I bet a large percentage of those young people were Latino/Latino with parents that had very limited education.


      • Yes, we do appreciate the stories of the “outliers” who made great successes of themselves (I mean more than economically) in spite of beginning with limited resources and/or support. My remarks focused on Europe and the Americas; much the same could be said of Asian and African immigration (and the Native Americans already here) where even today “white society” deals with biases toward the yellow, black, red, brown skinned. Exceptionalism as an issue never seems to go away. Sure does make it hard to be a welcoming world. I’m enjoying the new format!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s