Saturday, December 01, 2007

USA: Land Of Immigrants, truly

As of November 2007, culled from the best data available and most reliable extrapolation possible, there are now 40.5 million immigrants in the US which has a current total population of 301 million. These figures take cognizance of possible undercounts, survey misses, and other special categories like those living in group quarters.

That number includes both legal and illegal immigrants. And immigrants are those who are foreign-born and not citizens of the US at birth.

50% of illegal immigrants are Mexicans and from Central America. While those from South America registered one-third.

Again based on the numbers, illegal immigration contributed 50% of the total current increases in the immigrant population. But as a percentage of total immigrants, their number of 12.4 (adjusted) million constitutes 32.6 %

It should be noted that prior to the 1970s, illegal immigration was quite minimal. And in the intervening years up to the present, at least 4.1 million illegal aliens had their status legalized and received green cards from a couple of amnesty programs in the past.

10.3 million of these immigrants arrived from 2000 to the present, registering the highest number of immigrants in any 7-year period throughout history.

Being the most populous state in the Union, California registered the highest increases in immigrants, giving it almost 10 million immigrants residing within its borders. The state has a total extrapolated population of 36 million. Thus, California alone contributed 27% to the total immigrant population.

As a share of total population, immigrants contribute 12.6%, overhauled only by the years from 1900 to 1920 when total US population was not that much compared to today.

One undeniable fact stands out in all these phenomenal numbers. New immigration is the biggest single factor responsible for all this. And if this trend continues unabated, in 2060 the country will be adding 3.3 million residents to the total population from both immigrants and natives. Right now, the immigrants add about 1 million people each year.

Some pertinent data relating to the old homeland, the Philippines. In a top field of 25 countries of birth of immigrants, the Philippines garnered 4th place with 1.6 million, overtaken by much more populous countries such as Mexico, China, and India. It also showed among the highest for those who elected US citizenship, 60.3%.

On the poverty and near-poverty table, the Philippines placed last in the top field of 25 countries, registering only 4.2%. Doing even better compared to first-world country immigrants from UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, etc.

On educational attainment, Ages 25 to 64, the Philippines again placed better for all the top-25 countries, except for Germany, UK, Canada, and Japan.

All the data above were extracted from a report of the Center For Immigration Studies, which in turn was based largely on the most recent Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the Census Bureau.

Some critical areas of serious concern which cry for our attention.

A good majority of the new immigrants are not only unskilled but have very limited education. This translates in reality to lower incomes and thus more likely for them to avail of government assistance programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and even IRS credits such as in earned income and additional children. And a surprise revelation that even minus valid SS numbers, IRS has ruled that immigrants can still claim the additional children tax credit.

And given the new numbers, it may simply be not right to claim outright that these new immigrants do the jobs that natives do not want. From among a similar group of natives, those with limited skills and education, there are potentially enough of them unemployed and unutilized to take care of all the jobs that these new immigrants are doing at the present time. Maybe it simply requires for them to be incentivized and/or given the proper opportunity and information. Over the years, the numbers of employed coming from this group have been declining.

Talks about giving amnesty and a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegals already here may be a compassionate move to make, but at least our eyes should be opened to the onerous repercussions this is going to have on the economy and the government assistance programs. Given that most of these immigrants are unskilled and with limited education, and thus most likely to tax even more the government programs. Poverty rates will still be high, with many new citizens paying no federal taxes while availing of more government services.

The report from CIS concludes with a very ominous statement:

Setting aside the lower socio-economic status of immigrants, no nation has ever attempted to incorporate nearly 38 million (adjusted: 40m) newcomers into its society.