Last week’s “Day Without Immigrants” campaign was a startling reminder of the extent to which immigrant labor help drives the American economy.
But this is nothing new. Immigrants built American railroads in the 1860s, expanded the early agricultural sector, and helped grow factories and businesses during the Industrial Revolution.
Not that the value of immigrants is found only in their contributions to the American economy. Yes, they help bolster the Social Security system, bring skill sets that the labor force might otherwise lack and provide international links to global business and opportunities.
But newcomers have also introduced innovations and scientific discoveries (let’s not forget Albert Einstein was a German immigrant) and have woven compelling art, literature and philosophies into the fabric of our culture (Khalil Gibran and Khaled Hosseini, anyone?)
And yet, the struggles immigrants face are enormous. The United States still spends about $2 million in detaining immigrants each year. Discrimination is rampant. Political policies are inauspicious. And with the legal and language barriers, social isolation and employment challenges that immigrants often face, many are also at risk of exploitation and human trafficking.
What does all this mean? It’s a two-way relationship. Immigrants can enrich our nation, and our nation can help immigrants out.
This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in RELEVANT Magazine. Read the full article here>>