America is still going through a reckoning regarding a range of issues key among them social and racial injustice. The reckoning has unfortunately been attended by harmful and dangerous stereotypes mainly against minorities. It has behooved many people to undertake the refutation and examination of these harmful stereotypes. The Hispanics have been the recipients of these stereotypes and have been victims of unwarranted assumptions. They have experienced widespread discrimination, that has immense impacts on their well-being. One of the harmful stereotypes is that Latin American Immigrants take American jobs. This stereotype has mostly led to assumptions and harmful discrimination regarding the status of their immigration. Is this true or it is a product of foregone conclusions and unwarranted assumptions?
As immigration reform works through Congress, the discussion over illegal immigrants’ economic contributions has heated up. They are viewed by some as a black-market labor force which is depressing wages for native-born Americans and legal immigrants. Others view them as a necessary component of a number of large industries. Obtaining the complete picture is difficult, as Hispanic immigrants are often not simple to locate, interview, or include in polls. However, certain basic facts are emerging that may shatter some conventional notions: Hispanic immigrants do not simply pick fruit or labor off the books; very rarely do they earn far less than minimum wage; but they might well be increasing employment without lowering wages.
Unemployment is increasing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans are responding to this situation by altering their economic decisions, working remotely whenever possible, reducing the time spent in dense public spaces, and engaging in a variety of other activities that lead to decreased economic activity – often voluntarily, and often in accordance with the government orders regarding shelter in place (Nowrasteh). Consequently, employment levels are declining. Many pundits argue that more restrictions on immigration would maintain jobs for the American people during this pandemic period. Additional constraints have no corresponding effect.
The primary reason for immigration into the United States is the search for economic opportunity. Immigrants coming into the United States using green cards that are normally designated for family reunification, in as much as they intend to unite with their families, tend also to go for economic opportunities along the way. Therefore, it is simple logic that if the benefits of coming to the United States far outweigh the costs, then more people will immigrate. Higher wages are the biggest benefit of immigrating to the United States. The wages are higher since immigrants possess a higher marginal value product (MVP). A higher MVP means that immigrants are more productive in the states than they are back in their home nations. Consequently, more services and goods are sold at even higher prices. According to Clemens et al. (2019), a working Hispanic with a minimum of 9-12 years of education from his home nation, expects to have a 2.6 increase in wages once he moves to the United States. That is incentive enough to move.
The number of available jobs decreases during recessions, as wages adjust and growth slows. Consequently, the incentive to immigrate to the United States decreases whenever there is a recession. There is little benefit in coming to the United States then. Since the natives also have little benefit in such times, the government moves in to shield them from further shocks by stepping up restrictions on immigration. Such a thing has been done before. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover, restricted legal immigration. There is economic sensitivity among immigrants who know when to move or stay put.
COVID-19 has occasioned record unemployment and economic recession causing the benefits of immigration for the immigrants. Not only has COVID-19 reduced the benefits of immigrating but has also increased immigration costs. The pandemic is extremely prevalent in the United States, and so many immigrants may be wary of risking their health to get here. Therefore, the economic advantages of migrating here have decreased as a result of the recession, while the costs have increased as a result of the pandemic. Without specific policies, immigration should decline on its own.
Effect on Wages
Contrary to the stereotype, immigration has no effect on native American wages over the long haul. At first, increased immigration may result in a minor decrease in wages. However, the reduction in wages increases the relative capital price, which refers to the instruments used by employees to generate services and goods. As a response, capital earnings increase, and investors react by generating additional capital, lowering its price. Increased capital leads to increased worker productivity, that results in greater wages. In the long term, this labor demand curve becomes nearly completely elastic. Nonetheless, this economic consequence does not affect every worker in equal measure.
A significant oversupply of low-skilled individuals may result in a reduction in the relative earnings of comparably skilled workers though the capital markets readjust; but, economywide earnings should remain roughly the same prior to immigration (Chomsky). Overall economic research indicates that when capital markets adapt, American-born Citizens’ salaries improve little, with potentially slightly lower pay for native’s American high school dropouts, and that immigrants’ salaries decline the greatest. To put it differently, new immigrants regularly have a negative effect on the salaries of fellow immigrants and not on the salaries of natives. This happens because immigrants are most interchangeable so are not truly interchangeable with a large proportion of native-born Americans. Native-born American employees also respond to immigration by increasing their educational attainment, making themselves less interchangeable with immigrant workers. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the impact of immigrants on wages is negligible. Only those who have low academic qualifications are most likely to be affected since they are interchangeable.
The lump of labor Fallacy
The inclination to restrict immigration to protect native American jobs is referred to as the lump of labor fallacy. This is a fundamental misunderstanding that a society has a limited amount of work. Proponents of this misconception extend it to immigration by stating that each job taken by an immigrant would easily be filled by a native American citizen. As would be expected, this is not the case. The number of available opportunities is determined by a variety of economic forces and has never been constant. And this displacement effect, that refers to the phenomenon of immigrant workers pushing native-born Americans out from the job market, is seldom witnessed in practice but has been very modest when identified (Giza). The majority of economic studies on immigration’s impact upon employment find no significant evidence suggesting that immigrants drive natives out of work, including in extreme circumstances like the Mariel boatlift, which boosted Miami’s workforce by 7% in 6 weeks. Natives and immigrants frequently settle in the same economically expanding regions of the us, which would not occur if immigrants are displacing Americans.
Why We need Hispanic Immigrants
Hispanic immigrants comprise a sizable portion of the workforce in a variety of industries, most of which need extensive skills and knowledge. They may account for roughly 10% of the workers in hospitality, leisure, and construction, as well as agriculture and associated industries, according to Pew Hispanic Center estimates. However, in certain occupations such as culinary, painting, hand packaging, floor and carpet installation, and car washing, they would account for upwards of 20% of the workforce. These industries are in great need of an immigrant workforce that exceeds the quotas the government has for legal immigrants.
The jobs that immigrants are often accused of taking are physically demanding and most Americans do not want such jobs. Most Hispanic immigrants take high-risk jobs that are hard to work remotely. 84% of the immigrants held such jobs in comparison to 62% of the native population (ACLU). The difference is mainly because the immigrants cannot telework even if they held jobs in industries such as health and education, that support telework.
Far lesser immigrants would migrate here regardless of the virus, as there are fewer economic opportunities and increased danger. The immigrants do not displace native-born Americans. Finally, those who arrive increase native-born Americans’ wages significantly. Regardless, safeguarding American jobs is insufficient justification for border closures. Stereotyping Hispanic immigrants in light of the scientific evidence out there are plain wrong and uninformed. As the US population gets older and we experience low fertility rates, we cannot be fair to term Hispanic immigration as a negative thing. The U.S has great gains arising from immigration. There is no sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that the economy is hurting from the presence of Hispanic immigrants. The country stands to lose if it holds on to the stereotype of Hispanics stealing their jobs. Ironically, the people accused of stealing jobs from natives have created more jobs. If the U.S administration desires to create more jobs, then it should enlist more Hispanic immigrants. America cannot be made great again without the immense demonstrable gains that accrue from Hispanic immigrants. We should all rise above the negative stereotyping of Hispanic immigrants and face the data that rebukes us all.
ACLU. “Immigrants And The Economy”. American Civil Liberties Union, 2021, https://www.aclu.org/other/immigrants-and-economy.
Chomsky, Aviva. ” They take our jobs!”: and 20 other myths about immigration. Beacon Press, 2018.
Giza, Alexandra C. “Are Immigrants Stealing American Jobs? A Study of Unauthorized Immigration and Unemployment in the Southwest United States.” (2018).
Hoban, Brennan. “Do Immigrants “Steal” Jobs From American Workers?”. Brookings, 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/08/24/do-immigrants-steal-jobs-from-american-workers/
Nowrasteh, Alex. “Three Reasons Why Immigrants Aren’t Going to Take Your Job.” Cato Institute, 22 Apr. 2020, www.cato.org/blog/three-reasons-why-immigrants-arent-going-take-job.