By Rohith Rao
Immigration has a deep-rooted history in the United States and has always been an integral part of the grand story of America. Throughout its past, immigrants from all over the world have not only called the nation home but have also helped build, improve, protect and develop the country into the world power that we know today.
The Sad Truth
Despite the numerous contributions that immigrants have made over the years, the immigrant experience has almost always been notoriously muddled with hatred and racism. From discriminating against Irish Catholics in the mid 1850s all the way to the post 9/11 anti-Muslim sentiments, we have never fully been a testimony to the spirit of freedom and liberty for all, as the country boldly claims itself to be. In fact, it was only in 1965, when the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed, that the country struck down racial barriers in accepting immigrants and providing citizenship to a much more diverse demography than just western and northern Europeans. However, while the nation has become a lot more tolerant than before, the prejudice against immigrants hasn’t entirely disappeared from American society.
Why Do We Need Immigrants?
While the United States has been the dominant global power throughout the 20th century, the rapid development of other countries around the world requires the nation to be more competitive than ever. A great majority of immigrants come to the country in hopes of building better lives for themselves and their families, which inherently gives the nation itself a positive boost. Moreover, the existing rules regarding immigration and naturalization value skilled labor hence attracting the best of the best from all over the world.
A Young Workforce
In recent years, the natural population growth rate in the U.S. averages just around zero. This trend forecasts a major aging crisis in the future, when the young population shrinks in size, putting greater economic stress on them to take care of the ever-growing population of senior citizens and retirees. Higher life expectancy coupled with lower fertility rates is the main reason for this problem. Examples of the aging crisis can already be seen in Japan and some European nations that have some of the largest elderly populations. Increasing the size of the immigration quota could help preventing the United States from also falling into a similar crisis.
The benefits of encouraging the acceptance of diversity are highly underrated. Not only does it bring a rich cultural variety to the country but it also brings a refreshing new perspective on local, national and global issues. This in turn promotes open-mindedness and tolerance among the American populace.
The need for immigrants now more than ever can be justified with countless logical socio-economic arguments. However, the most important reasoning is epitomized by a poem on a plaque at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which reads,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”