In many circles today it has become very popular, if not downright fashionable, to bash immigrants. No matter who they are or how they got here. This is more often than not the case when we collectively turn our attention to illegal immigrants. This issue is getting a lot of attention. As always, we will address the topic from the perspective of the impact on the country’s bottom line as opposed to the perspectives that may be an easy one for most of us to agree. For my video version, please watch:
It took a while for people on this planet to respect and recognized the fact when it came to gravity it was real and the fact that the world is not flat, but indeed round. We look for things to make us alarmists. We like being in shock and awe as we agree how they are doing it to us. Look at the unemployment rate during the worst economic time this country has ever seen, the Great Depression.
As we can see from 1929-1941 history, when the going gets tough it is natural
human behavior to raise the drawbridge to newcomers. According to
Doctors to Trump: Deporting Illegal Immigrants Would Be Bad for U.S. Health
That quote is the headline from the Fiscal Times, on September 2, 2015. On that date the American College of physicians had a message for presidential candidates advocating for mass deportation of illegal immigrants: “Any plan to kick out those 12 million people from the country would have severe public health consequences.” The doctors’ group, which represents 143,000 internists encouraging physicians to block proposals against mass deportation, went on to say, “Large-scale deportation of undocumented residents would have severe and unacceptable adverse health consequences for many millions of vulnerable people,” Dr. Wayne J. Riley, the groups’ president, said in a statement. “Numerous studies show that deportation itself, as well as the fear of being deported, causes emotional distress, depression, trauma associated with imposed family separations, and distrust of anyone assumed to be associated with federal, state and local government, including physicians and other health care professionals providing care in publicly-funded hospitals and clinics.” Riley said, “That distrust, in turn, could result in sick people not getting medical attention, and in cases of patients with infectious diseases, it could even lead to a public health emergency with tremendous costs to the to the overall health care system,” the group warned. Riley went on to say, “On the other hand, having illegal immigrants in the country carries health care costs, too. Medicaid pays around $2 billion a year for emergency treatment for illegal immigrants, Kaiser Health News reported in 2013, adding that the total represents less than 1 percent of total Medicaid costs.” The devil is in the details and the numbers begin to help us put things in perspective. We can all agree, like we all used to agree that the world is flat, that the immigrants are taking great advantage of our hospitals, schools, and Social Security systems. But when the total health care cost attributed to illegal immigrants is less than 1 percent of the total outlay it is clear that number is so low that is not meaningful. In 2014 there are about 319 million people who live in the USA, according to the Census Bureau.
As reported in Fact Tank on July 22, 2015, there are “an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants who lived in the US in 2014,” according to Pew Research Center based on government data. This means the ratio of illegal to legal people living in the US is about 3.0%.. 3 percent of the population is spending 1 percent of the health care costs. By any measure, the illegals are spending much less than most people think and less than their “fair” share.
Bottom Line: Net Benefit to USA
When it comes to reading the economic tea leaves it is clear to this observer that it is not such a “random walk on Wall Street.” The vastly different and much easier to comprehend message that I get by paying for independent research from H.S. Dent Research is that the US economy is based on the patterns of ordinary people doing very predictable things in their spending cycles. Thanks to the Census Bureau and Harry Dent I see the following patterns. Americans on average enter the work force at age 20, move for job opportunity at age 25 (this also holds true those who move outside the US), get married in our late 20’s, almost simultaneously start having children and buying our first house in our late 20’s and early 30’s, peak in spending mid 40’s for average income earners and peaking in earning and spending at 53-54 for the high income earners. Whether our immigrants got here legally or not, these folks want exactly the same things we often take for granted. We all want a good job, a nice home, education for our children, decent cars, and eventually the ability to retire in dignity. When I talk to economists around the country I like to ask the question. All things considered, are immigrants (legal or not) a net benefit or a net loss to this country. So far, I have yet to come across one economist who hasn’t asserted when we do the math, immigrants of all types are a net benefit to the US. Let me conclude by comparison. In the late 80’s many Americans were convinced Japan would become number 1 in Gross Domestic Product. According to the World Bank, Japan ranks number 3 in GDP. From what I can gather, Japan did not have a baby boom generation near the size of the US and did not accept immigration at all. This might also help to explain why the government of Finland put out an ad all over the country that reads, “Do it for Finland!” So, let’s find a way to get along. Because no one is going to get out of this thing called life alive. No matter how they got here, let’s make room for the folks who gave up everything to be here. Otherwise, you and your significant other better get busy and start having children again.
John L. Grace
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