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Immigrants contributing to Americans’ wealth, economic prospects

Immigrants in a variety of professions have helped to improve the country's economy.

Many people who are opposed to making it easier for undocumented immigrants to attain citizenship say that it will put an adverse burden on the state of the economy. But as a recent report indicates, immigrants are chief among those who are doing their fair share to improve the financial condition of the United States.

According to the report, which was conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies, more than two-thirds of the employment growth that's been generated in the U.S. has derived from immigrants, or those who were born outside of the country.

Stephen Camarota, the report's co-author, noted that this may come as news both to those who are native to the U.S. as well as those who are from somewhere else originally but came to the U.S. to send money to home their families.

"It's extraordinary that most of the employment growth in the last four years has gone to the foreign-born," said Camarota.

He added that it was particularly surprising that this information was not mentioned during any of the presidential debates, all of which occurred in October.

Alex Nowrasteh, a researcher for the Cato Institute, noted that some of the biggest employment gains have been observed in job sectors that immigrants tend to gravitate toward.

"Most of the areas of the U.S. economy that are hiring right now, like agriculture and high-tech industries, are those where immigrants have always been overly represented," said Nowrasteh.

A more direct indication of just how beneficial immigrants have been for the U.S. economy comes from the numbers within the study itself.

Based on statistics collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center for Immigration Studies, the report found that employment among immigrants – both documented and unauthorized – has jumped from 21.2 million to 23.2 million since 2009. Meanwhile, employment among those native to the U.S. has increased from 118 million to 119 million. In short, nearly 2 million more immigrants have been hired compared to the additional 938,000 native-born that have gotten jobs.

FRBSF study reveals immigrants help improve earnings
But this is only one of several studies that have been conducted over the years that testify of immigrants' positive effect on the U.S. economy. For example, in August 2010, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco released similar findings.

"The most accurate way to gauge the net impact of immigration on such an economy is to analyze the effects dynamically over time," said the study's lead researcher, University of California, Davis, associate professor Giovanni Peri. "Data show that, on net, immigrants expand the U.S. economy’s productive capacity, stimulate investment, and promote specialization that in the long run boosts productivity. Consistent with previous research, there is no evidence that these effects take place at the expense of jobs for workers born in the United States."

Peri says that between 1990 and 2007, total immigration to the U.S. led to a 6.6 to 9.9 percent increase in real income for each worker. This translates to an additional $5,100 for each employee in the U.S. job market in terms of 2005 dollars.

More immigrants are realizing the positive employment prospects they have in the U.S. versus other places in the world. This may be evidenced by the increased number of people who have applied for deferred action from being deported. President Barack Obama's administration recently released numbers stating that more than 50,000 immigrants have been approved for DACA status, which is short for the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals. 

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