Immigration has become a scapegoat for almost all of America’s economic and societal ills. The far right continues to claim that American jobs are being taken by immigrants, and that immigration is responsible for every problem under the sun, from the national debt and welfare dependency, to terrorism and crime. Many of these far-right conservatives reminisce about the days when America was 80-90% white, and resembled an outpost of Europe. Most people however, embrace multiculturalism, and think that America should be a place where everybody can realize their dreams, regardless of national origin.
Perhaps the most misguided of the conservative anti-immigration claims is that immigration leads to unemployment. Studies have shown time and time again that immigrants are a net positive to the economy, helping companies expand and employ more people. In addition, many immigrants start businesses and employ Americans themselves. Those jobs that immigrants do take, are usually jobs that Americans do not want, such as low-skill manual labor. Conservatives sometimes claim that American teenagers and college students would be willing to take these jobs, but the reality is that most American youths don’t want to work, and those who do are unsatisfied with even the current minimum wage. The claim that immigrants are more welfare dependent than natives is also irrelevant, because immigrants contribute to the economy and help pay for their own welfare consumption.
The idea that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for crime and terrorism is also a myth. The vast majority of criminals and terrorists are born in America, and typically represent a small minority of their ethnic or cultural group. In fact, the terror threats that our government is most worried about are home grown right-wing domestic terrorists such as the Oregon ranchers, so blaming foreigners for terrorism is wholly inaccurate.
Ultimately, immigration benefits us all. A rich and diverse nation is always going to be more prosperous and exciting to live in than a stale monoculture. Most of the world’s talent and intellectual capital is outside of America – why are we barring these people from contributing to our economy? Open borders simply mean that everybody is free to pursue freedom and happiness in America while contributing to our success and enriching our society. We are all human beings, and we all share the same values deep down. By tearing down borders, we can begin to work together, rather than fighting with each other. Let’s build a society based on peace and cooperation, rather than hate and separation, where races, cultures and religions can come together in harmony and build a better world for everybody.