By: James Porter
Labor Day was made a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate the strength and spirit of the American work force. This year, Labor Day was celebrated in the midst of an economic crisis, with unemployment spiking across the country. Immigrants have often been a scapegoat for those looking for someone to blame for the bad economy. From the Irish immigrants of the early 1900’s to the Hispanic immigrants of today, as each wave of immigrants has come to the U.S. seeking a better life and more opportunities, they have been greeted by people who are ready to point a finger.According to a 2010 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:
There is no evidence that immigrants crowd out U.S.-born workers in either the short or long run. 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.
What about the undocumented population? Some argue that if we deported all undocumented immigrants, the economy would get better as fewer people would be “stealing American jobs” and “benefiting from social services.” However, according to another study from 2010:
Comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes currently unauthorized immigrants and creates flexible legal limits on future immigration would yield at least $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over a 10-year period.
In addition, the study showed that deporting all undocumented immigrants would lead to $2.6 trillion loss in gross domestic product over a 10-year period. Immigrants pay taxes, contribute to consumer spending, own businesses, and add to the fabric of the U.S. economy.
Putting economic arguments aside, we should treat immigrants with the respect and dignity that they deserve as children of God. In “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” a joint pastoral letter from the Catholic Bishops of the United States and Mexico, they state:
The Church recognizes that all goods of the earth belong to all people. When persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.
This is a direct call for the need for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. While immigration reform remains on the backburner of the political landscape, we continue to see the need for an overhaul of the broken immigration system. If not to better our economy, then to respect all humans as we were created in the image and likeness of God.
*James is a Communications Officer for CLINIC