MARCH 3, 2018

Don’t Buy into Myths: Studies Show that Immigrants Are Good for the Nation’s Economy

Since President Donald Trump’s misinformation PR campaign started to discredit the role of immigrants in the U.S., the American public has been led to believe that immigrants are a burden to this country. While most Americans are in support of immigration as being one of the nation’s founding principles, many others remain politically on the fence because of the myths surrounding immigrants, particularly their alleged detriment to the American economy.

The fact is -- as many economists conclude based on solid research -- immigrants are vital to the nation’s economy. Americans must know these facts and be encouraged to stop standing on the sidelines and join the fight to protect legal immigration that is, more than ever, in danger of damaging reform.

The economic contributions of immigrants far outweigh the cost that right-wing politicians constantly bring up -- that immigrants are a burden to the economy because they take a toll on healthcare, the public education system, and welfare. With the aging of the workforce and Baby Boomers already into retirement, more labor is needed that immigrants provide.

Two reasons why immigrants are used as scapegoats -- that they are taking native-born workers jobs and depressing wages -- are found to be false, according to studies from the Economic Policy Institute and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard. Due to limited English proficiency, immigrants are found not to be substitutes for native-born workers. What studies show is that immigrants are more likely to compete for jobs that immigrants already hold. Where there is some competition for jobs between immigrants and native-born workers are jobs that require only high school education.

Immigrants contribute to the economy also as leaders in innovation. They are a big part of the U.S. dominance in high-technology. They are overrepresented in research at top universities and institutions.

When it comes to small business, immigrants represent a higher percentage of entrepreneurs than the native-born population.

Immigrants help to underwrite government services, transportation, health care, and education because they pay income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and social security. Illegal immigrants get the shortest end of the stick as contributors to federal and state taxes, social security and sales taxes but are ineligible for any government benefits or social security.

Scholars agree that immigrants’ contribution to the economy overall is net-positive, meaning that what they put into the economy is greater than what they receive. It is true, however, that in some regions, mostly bigger cities, where a higher percentage of lower educated immigrants settle, there is a net-negative factor.

But experts say that this is off-set in the long run when factoring in the contributions that immigrant children (second-generation Americans) have on the economy, when the net-positive benefit is even greater.

There are so many success stories of immigrants in every community.

Instead of vilifying immigrants, Americans ought to be grateful for their presence, and, yes, be grateful for their contributions to the economy. When Americans are aware of the facts of immigrants’ net-positive economic contributions, it becomes even more suspect as to why Trump and the GOP want legal immigration to be cut in half. Could it be cultural and political xenophobia? Perhaps, but it’s clear that the economy simply cannot be a reason. 

For now, Trump’s dangerous “Four-pillars of Immigration Reform” plan hasn’t moved forward only because his immigration reform would need a supermajority vote with at least some Democrats siding with Republicans. Democrats, at least for now, are not willing to dramatically overhaul immigration in exchange for a DACA deal.

Trump’s proposed cuts to legal immigration, particularly doing away with family-based immigration, is too deep a sacrifice and would change who we are as a nation (demographic shift) and what we stand for. Ending family-based immigration, which has been the cornerstone of U.S. immigration for decades, is non-negotiable.

But should Republicans win a supermajority in the mid-term elections, legal immigration as we know it, no doubt, will end. This is what’s at stake. All immigrant supporters must gear up, mobilize coalitions, and turn out to vote in this year’s mid-term elections to prevent this from happening.


Support Hawaii’s SB2046 That Bans “Bump Stocks”

“President Trump, we need action, we need change. Get these guns out of the hands of these young kids and get these guns off the streets,” said Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa, 14, was one among 17 people killed recently by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The 19-year-old suspect used an AR-15 rifle, a semi-automatic rifle that has been used in many mass shootings, including in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 2012 Aurora shooting, 2015 San Bernardino attack. The AR-15 has become the most vilified weapon to pro-gun control advocates.

According to data from Everytown for Gun Safety, the Parkland, Florida shooting is the 17th school shooting in the U.S. this year. The Associated Press says the Florida shooting is the deadliest school shooting in five years.

Since the infamous Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 when a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults, there have been 239 shootings nationwide, 438 people shot in those episodes, and 138 killed, according to Gun Violence Archive.

Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools Robert Runcie did not mince words, saying: “Now is the time for the country to have a real conversation on sensible gun controls in this country.”

Only a few months ago in October 2017 the nation watched in horror as a gunman opened fired on a crowd at the Harvest music festival in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and 851 injured. Back then, many Americans called for, as they are doing now, to end the insanity and enforce stricter gun laws.

Will Politicians Listen This Time?

Immediately after the Las Vegas massacre, President Donald Trump and republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said that it wasn’t the appropriate time to talk about gun legislation.

Now, after the Florida school shooting, House Speaker Ryan apparently hasn’t changed his position. He said in an interview that public policymakers “shouldn’t just knee-jerk before we even have all the facts and the data. We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically, and just pulling together.”

Really, facts and data on gun violence and mass shootings from automatic rifles have been piling up and readily available for years.  The President is also keeping with the same script; and did not even mention guns in his initial speech after the Florida attack. Instead, he proposed an ill-thought out distraction to arm school teachers that could hardly become a reality.

When will it ever be time? “At some point, we’ve got to say enough is enough,” said Democrat Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

Enough is Enough

The political reality is the only way for tougher gun restrictions to get passed is by first placing this issue very high in priority and second voting out politicians connected at the hip with the powerful gun lobby National Rifle Association (NRA). Time and time again, the NRA has resisted real gun reform against over-the-top, high-powered automatic weapons that really have no practical use outside of engagements of war.

If politicians are receiving PAC money from the NRA, rest assured, as Americans have witnessed over and over, these politicians will be quick to offer condolences and prayers to families and victims of mass murders, but don’t expect anything else. These politicians have shown how they will vote on gun issues the minute they’ve accepted NRA money.

A majority of Americans are tired of inaction, tired of listening to arguments over the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. Yes, that right is clear, but when those laws were created, the technology of guns were basic and not the high-tech killing machines available today that are being used in mass shootings. Gun laws must be updated as technology advances. Otherwise, how far will we allow the right to bear arms go? -- freewheeling and largely unchecked to a time when gun-technology advances even further in achieving greater deaths per second? Guns as defensive weapons to protect oneself and one’s family is an entirely different matter and is not being called into question here. Automatic rifles and bump stock technology are the problem and ought to be banned.

Hawaii Senate Bill 2046

Introduced by State Sen. Karl Rhoads, SB2046 aims to ban “bump stocks,” a device used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre. The bill prohibits trigger modification devices that accelerates the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm and would make possession of these devices a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. This bill prohibits people from circumventing automatic-firearm regulations.

A bump stock is a slide mechanism attached to a modified rifle stock that can be swapped with the original stock of a weapon. When the modified rifle is fired, it simulates automatic firing.

The bill is backed by the Honolulu Police Department and other law enforcement officials and private citizens; but it is being opposed by the NRA, no surprise.

There has been some confusion in Hawaii gun laws over the legality of “bump stocks.” Former Atty. General Doug Chin opined they already are banned under existing Hawaii law that prohibits modifying firearms to convert them into automatic weapons. Pro-gun advocates disagree.

But passage of SB2046 aims to make it explicitly clear that “bump stocks” and similar devices are to be banned.

We encourage Hawaii lawmakers to support this bill. If it doesn’t move forward this session, it should be brought back and passed next year. Hawaii’s citizens, and our children and teachers, shouldn’t have to wait for a devastating mass shooting to occur in our community for lawmakers to ban such potentially deadly devices.

© 2008-2018 Hawaii Filipino Chronicle Inc.