Immigrants Are Vital to the U.S. Economy

Erick Widman

In the past couple of decades, the conversation surrounding immigration has become ever-pressing, heated, and political. Many argue against immigration yet the best way to combat this notion is the very fact that immigrants are vital to the U.S. Economy.

“Immigration has an overall positive impact on the long-run economic growth in the U.S.” says the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in their 2017 report.

By entering the labor force, immigrants increase the productivity and capacity of the economy while raising the GDP. NASEM makes this evident with the statistic that Immigrants added $2 trillion to the U.S. GDP in 2016 and $458.7 billion to state, local, and federal taxes in 2018. Undocumented immigrants also contribute to the economy: roughly $11.74 billion a year in state and local taxes. Another benefit of immigrant workers is that, as said by Pia Orrenius in her essay Benefits of Immigration Outweigh the Costs, “immigrants grease the wheels of the labor market by flowing into industries and areas where there is a relative need for workers.”

Many believe the notion that immigrants take away American jobs from native-born Americans yet “Immigrants in the U.S. create a lot more jobs than they take, primarily because many are prone to starting businesses that go on to create a lot of jobs,” according to researcher Daniel Kim.

Immigrants are much more entrepreneurial than other native-born Americans with immigrants creating “1 in 4 new businesses in the U.S. and currently [employing] close to 8 million American workers across the nation,” says Joint Economic Committee member Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz.

Even though first generation immigrants compose only 12% of the U.S. population, they represent 16.7% of all new U.S. business owners. Immigrants and the children of immigrants have created nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies. In fact, immigrants’ entrepreneurship is vital to the future of the U.S. economy.

Additionally many believe the myth that immigrants take more from the U.S. government than they put into it, yet that myth can be easily countered with one simple fact: these immigrants give more tax revenue than they take government aid. While first-generation immigrants on average receive more aid than native-born Americans, second generation immigrants are “among the strongest fiscal and economic contributors in the U.S.,” according to the NASEM report. They contribute approximately $1,700 per person per year whereas all other native-born Americans only contribute about $1,300 per person per year. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ longitudinal data shows that immigrants who receive government benefits (ie. SNAP or Medicaid) are seen to have higher rates of employment over time.

Ultimately, immigration not only holds the intangible benefits of cultural diversity and developing a deeper American perspective, but also holds concrete economic benefits. So ask yourself this, if immigrant workers only make the economy more productive, efficient, and expansive, why advocate for restricting immigration?

Take Action; Citizenship Now for 11 Million Immigrants: Advocate for the legalization of the 11 million undocumented American immigrants who’ve been essential workers, acting on the front lines, and keeping us all safe and healthy by filling out the National Immigration Law Center’s (NILC) brief email form. As said by Congressman Dr. Ruiz, “Immigrants are a critical part of our country’s infrastructure and disproportionately serve in frontline jobs that help feed us and keep us safe during the pandemic… immigrants are key drivers of economic growth and affirms just how vital immigrants are to the economy… Supporting immigrant communities means supporting economic growth and productivity for our nation.”


Bellows, John. “U.S. Department of the Treasury.” The Many Contributions of Immigrants to the American Economy, May 25, 2011.

Frazee, Gretchen. “4 Myths about How Immigrants Affect the U.S. Economy.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, November 2, 2018.

FWD. “The Positive Economic Impact Of Immigration.”, June 16, 2021.

Orrenius, Pia. Benefits of Immigration Outweigh the Costs, 2016.

United States Joint Economic Committee. “CHC, JEC Release New Report on Why Immigrants Are Vital to U.S. Economy.” Press Releases – United States Joint Economic Committee, April 26, 2021.

Wharton UPenn, Research Wharton Business Daily North America. “Getting the Job Done: How Immigrants Expand the U.S. Economy.” Knowledge@Wharton, September 8, 2020.

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