APnews.com: "Immigration is indeed a blessing" - Islamic Relief USA

The following is an excerpt from an article posted in the APnews.com in  April 2019:

“During a recent naturalization ceremony, former President George W. Bush, a former Texas governor as well, described immigration as “a blessing and a strength.”

Given the recent policies and practices surrounding immigration that have become increasingly familiar in recent years — family separations, a Muslim travel ban, limits on refugee admissions, deportation of nonviolent immigrants — it’s understandable if one might feel otherwise.

However, Islamic Relief USA, which recently participated with our close friends from the Jewish refugee organization HIAS in a discussion about immigration, concurs with the former president’s sentiments.

What often gets lost or overshadowed in the discussion about this perennially emotional subject are the economic blessings and strengths immigrants provide to so many communities, industries and service sectors in the United States.

A report called “Immigration and American Jobs,” which was produced by the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the business coalition group Partnership for a New American Economy, concluded that immigrants pay more in taxes than their families receive in federal benefits from welfare, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP(, Medicaid or unemployment.

One area where immigrants’ taxes are particularly crucial is in Social Security. With some analyses projecting that it will pay out more money in benefits than it takes in through revenues, it’s essential to have more workers on documented payrolls. Immigration would be that blessing/solution. In 2012, undocumented workers paid $12 billion more in payroll taxes than they received in benefits.

In San Antonio, the city’s 290,000-plus immigrants had a combined income of more than $6 billion in 2016, according to a study by the New American Society. The city’s immigrants paid some $1.5 billion in taxes that year, of which $500 million went toward state and local taxes and $1 billion to the federal government. Collectively, they possessed more than $5 billion in spending power.

Perhaps the biggest gripe directed against immigrants is that they siphon jobs from U.S.-born workers. Again, the studies counter that belief with a finding that’s much more palatable and worthy of replication. Instead of competing with U.S.-born workers for certain jobs, immigrants tend to complement their colleagues’ occupations. As the joint report stated, “the foreign-born can have different skills and education than U.S. natives and therefore tend to work in different jobs.” And, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, concluded in a myth-fact sheet that immigration “does not negatively impact American workers without college degrees.”

The cultural differences can help foster creativity in the form of job creation. The Hamilton Project research project found that immigrants are 30 percent more likely to form new businesses than U.S.-born residents. Also, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the average immigrant-owned business hires 11 employees. If the number of potential undocumented immigrant entrepreneurs, estimated to be 470,000, were able to operate their businesses in the formal economy, they could potentially create as many as 5.2 million new jobs.

Despite the positive benefits, recent events and statements paint a disheartening picture.

We learned recently that the Department of Health and Human Services plans to expand bed capacity at its temporary shelter for unaccompanied alien children in Homestead, Fla., later this month. As the issue concerning the possible closing of the Southern border continues, we encourage policymakers to take these facts into consideration.

Instead of adding more beds to holding facilities, we need to come up with real solutions.

Anwar Khan is the president of Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization that works on alleviating poverty in more than 40 countries. The organization has offices in Texas.”

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