In her article in the NYT, “An antidote to a Shrinking America: Immigration,” Patricia Cohen is right that the U.S. will depend on immigrants in the coming decades. However, what she fails to see is that allowing low-skilled immigrants in vast numbers will adversely affect the economy and the nation for years to come.
I am on the record defending low-skilled immigration to the U.S. exactly for the reasons Patricia gives. The construction, hospitality, and agriculture industries, among others, depend on low-skilled labor.
But what Patricia fails to even acknowledge is that if the bulk of our immigrant population in the next several decades is low-skilled, there will not be enough taxpayers to sustain our economy and the Entitlement programs so essential to the most vulnerable among us.
A good example of what I am talking about is, ironically, the city Patricia is exalting as the model of immigration to the U.S. in the coming decades: Miami, Florida—my city. According to Miami New Times, “Of the top 25 metro areas, Miami has the second-lowest median household income in the United States.”
If this was not enough, the same newspaper reports that “Those low wages no doubt contribute to a second scary statistic showing Miami has the second-highest percentage of people living in poverty of any major metro area. In South Florida, an astonishing 921,000 people — 15.4 percent of the population — live below the poverty line.”
Since most of those people live in Miami-Dade County (population estimated at 2 million), this means that almost 50% of the people living in Miami are poor!
Patricia is right that it attracts more immigrants than any other city in the country. But she fails to notice that the reason why Miami is among the poorer cities in the country is because most of its immigrant population is low-skilled and poor. As low-wage earners, they don’t contribute as much to the tax base.
As I noted in my article on Finnish Socialism, we must be mindful of the future of the nation. As I argued in that piece, that future would be jeopardized if we do not see the vital importance in the coming decades of the immigrant who is not only self-sufficient, but who will also contribute significantly to the tax base.
So, Patricia, it turns out that your “antidote” is really a “prescription” for the shrinking—I would say, demise—of America.