Latest News 2017 November How Family-Based Immigration Benefits the Economy

How Family-Based Immigration Benefits the Economy

Family-based immigration came under attack earlier this year when the White House proposed legislation that would restrict family-based visas to spouses and children, limiting family arrivals by up to 85%. For nativists and immigration opponents, this was a perfectly reasonable way to cut down on the number of immigrants unwilling to leave their families behind. They also believed this would cut down on the number of non-contributing or dependent arrivals. The proposed legislation was titled the "Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy" Act (or RAISE Act).

The title is certainly ironic: family immigration helps the economy. Cutting down family immigration hurts us all. According to the American Immigration Council, allowing for family visas help facilitate integration into American communities, economies, and culture.

Here's how:

#1: Families Provide Access to Jobs & Credit

Families are primarily how newcomers gain access to credit or employment. Without families, it's less likely for a newcomer to find a job—leading to the very problem of "non-contribution" the RAISE Act was trying to solve.

#2: Families Form Communities

The family is the molecule around which communities form. Communities, in turn, are the soil for business development. Without communities, immigrants are less likely to join together or gain support for their start-ups—depriving the local economy of a valuable service or good. Communities are also vital resources for helping newcomers integrate into American society.

#3: Families Allow Immigrants to Climb the Social Ladder Faster

Studies show that there is an initial income gap between people who arrive with an employment visa versus people who arrive with a family visa (which is a common argument against the family visa). However, studies show that family-based arrivals have much faster income growth than employment arrivals—and the gap closes fairly quickly between the two visa-holder types. Increased income indicates skills growth and high demand for skills, making family-based immigrants the most upwardly mobile people in the United States.

#4: Families Make Self-Employment Possible

Studies showed that the siblings of U.S. residents (fourth preference visa holders) had the highest rates of self-employment of any other immigrant segment. In cases where self-employed immigrants become successful, family-based immigration creates jobs and helps communities build wealth.

#5: Families Make Employment & Development Possible

Research done regarding family arrivals who provide unpaid services like child care or care for ailing family members indicates that unpaid work also benefits the economy. When someone else is around to care for the home, women immigrants are more likely to join the labor force. This helps sustain the current workforce, allowing the national economy to grow.

Studies also show that unpaid caretaking helps build "human capacity and development," essentially creating better people simply through care. Anyone who was raised by a grandparent or family member while the parents worked understands the value of having a relative provide childcare. The general well-being of the home is a vital part of economic growth. However, due to how difficult it is to ascribe a tangible value to unpaid work, economists often leave it out of their statistics.

However, economists theorize that unpaid caretaking, when accounting for hours spent working, represents half of a nation's total output. Unpaid caretaking, whether it's for the sick or for children, powers the economy's growth behind the scenes.

As we enjoy the holidays and spend time with family, it's vital to remember that many of our immigrant neighbors are a world away from many of their loved ones. Separation from family members, especially in light of this year's immigration restrictions, affects us all in tangible ways—both economically and as a community of empathetic people.

Read more about the benefits of family-based immigration here.

Categories: Familly Visas