Critique of Rupert Murdoch's "Let Us Give Thanks to Our Immigrants" essay

Essay by AethwynnCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2008

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In Murdoch's essay, “Let Us Give Thanks to Our Immigrants”, he says that there is evidence of the contributions these immigrants make to our society all around us. He also says it's not always easy to talk about the benefits of immigration, especially since Sept. 11th 2001. Most people assume to know all there is to know about immigration from the news reports on television, or from articles in their local newspapers. Some of the most common arguments that detractors of immigration like to use are that immigrants are taking jobs away from deserving Americans, that they are a drain on the economy and that they have little or no interest in contributing to or becoming part of our society. With few exceptions these misconceptions could not be further from the truth, yet even some of the most well-educated people continue to try to validate their opinions with these outdated arguments.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for both U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students allow many U.S. graduate programs to keep their doors open for students from this country as well. There has been no real comprehensive study done on immigrant-owned businesses, but there are countless examples. In Silicon Valley, company started by Chinese and Indian immigrants generated over $19 billion in sales and over 70,000 jobs in 2000 alone. In fact, during the 1990s, nearly half of all new workers in the U.S. were foreign-born, filling in gaps in personnel in both low- and high-end skilled jobs. These immigrants filled jobs in key areas, started their own businesses and contributed to the economic boom of the 90s. As noted by Alan Greenspan, around 70% of immigrants arrive to this country at the prime age for working, meaning we didn’t have to fund their educations, yet they will contribute billions into our social security system over the next few decades. ¹ Legal immigrants to this company pay taxes in the form of income, property, sales and both federal and state taxes. Sources vary in their accounts, but most find that immigrants pay between 90 and 140 billion dollars a year in federal, state and local taxes. Undocumented immigrants pay taxes as well, the Social Security Administrations suspense file, which is a listing of taxes that cannot be matched to a workers name and social security number, grew by 20 billion dollars between 1990 and 1998. ²In fact, most immigrants come here to work, or to reunite with family members that are already in this country. Their participation in the labor force is higher than native-born Americans, and immigrant workers make up about 12% of the U.S. labor force, while they only make up about 11% of the population. What’s more, the ration between immigrant use of public assistance and the amount of taxes they pay actually favors the U.S. According to some estimates, immigrants earn around 240 billion dollars a year, pay another 90 billion dollars in taxes, yet only use about 5 billion dollars in assistance. In another study of the data, immigrant taxes were considerably lower, yet still were 20 to 30 billion dollars more than the amount of government services they use.³What does all this add up to? Basically, immigrants are what this country was founded on. Nearly everyone here at one some point in their ancestry, is descended from an immigrant. Our mothers, fathers, grand parents, our doctor, our lawyer, the bus driver that picks our kids up from school and delivers them home safely, the police officer keeping us all safe at night, any one of these people could be an immigrant, and is probably descended from someone born in another country. Does this make them bad people? Does this make them not worthy of having being here?They are what sets us apart from every nation in this world. In short, they are us.

¹ Sum, Trubskyy, Khatiwada, et al., Immigrant Workers in the New England Labor Market: Implications for Workforce Development Policy, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Prepared for the New England Regional Office, the Employment and Training Administration, and the U.S. Department of Labor, October 2002.