Letter to the editor: We should welcome immigrants with open arms
The Summit Daily News reprint of Joe Guzzardi’s column “Is the U.S. Full? No, it’s overfull” (June 8) gave voice to a serious misreading of our immigration challenge. Guzzardi considers the current level of immigration – about 1 million people per year – to be excessive. He compares this to an average of 250,000 dating back to 1776. In 1776, the population of the United States was 2.5 million. Today, our population is 330 million. The 1 million immigrants that so alarm Guzzardi amount to only 0.3% of the U.S. population. So what’s the real problem?
The rate of natural population growth in the U.S. has fallen so low that we are more dependent than ever on immigration to prevent the U.S. from sinking into economic stagnation. Japan is experiencing long-term natural population decline with negligible immigration. Its 20 years of economic stagnation is a direct result.
Guzzardi’s argument for reducing immigration is founded on the zero-sum fallacy that the economic pie is fixed and additional population just spreads it thinner. This is false. Population growth is a principal driver of economic growth. The poverty and homelessness that Guzzardi cites are the result of distribution inequities, not spreading the pie thinner. Slowing economic growth by cutting immigration would only make those problems worse.
Current U.S. birth rates are too low to sustain the growing workforce necessary to support robust future economic growth. The immigrants arriving here are largely young, working-age adults. Their children will be future working-age adults. We need sustained immigration to prevent our future workforce from shrinking due to declining birth rates.
The youth, energy and creativity that immigration contributes to our society are essential fuels to drive a dynamic, sustainable future for all of us. Unlike countries like Japan and Russia, at least immigrants want to come here. We should be glad they do and welcome them with open arms.
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