Obama to Confront Immigration Reform Challenges During Trip to Mexico
Americans Think Immigration is Bad for U.S. Economy; Report Argues Otherwise
According to a 2008 public opinion poll released by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, most Americans believe the current level of immigration is having a negative effect on most aspects of the U.S. economy. Significant majorities see immigration as bad for the U.S. economy, the job security of American workers and the country as a whole. Only 15 percent of Americans think legal immigration should be increased.
But according to
"The U.S. economy is creating large numbers of low-skill jobs that far exceed the number held by Mexican immigrants, which suggests that Mexican immigrants are not taking away jobs, but are filling the large increases in demand for those jobs," argues Paral, a research fellow at the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Law Foundation and the
Paral's report, the first of The Chicago Council's new Heartland Paper series, describes major demographic and socioeconomic features of Mexican immigration across the eight-state Midwest region. The report reveals a wide range of information on Midwestern Mexican immigrants that has never before been published.
Key report findings include:
- Mexicans are the largest immigrant community in the Midwest.
- While 42 percent of counties in the Midwest region experienced population decline from 2000 to 2006, Mexican immigrant populations grew rapidly. With 5 percent growth annually, the Mexican immigrant population in the region is growing ten times as fast as the average annual population growth of the Midwest.
- Between 2000 and the end of 2010, more than 50 percent of job openings in the Midwest are projected to be for low-skilled workers. These are the jobs Mexican immigrants are filling.
- In 1990, Mexican immigrants were 1.6 percent of Midwestern manufacturing workers, but today are 4.5 percent of the Midwestern manufacturing labor force.
- Income declines for Mexican immigrants far outpace those of the overall population in every state. In 2005-2006, the Mexican immigrant poverty rate of 22 percent was almost twice as high as the 12 percent rate for the rest of the population. Because Mexican immigrant workers are concentrated in low-skill, low-wage sectors of the economy, Mexican immigrant households are particularly vulnerable to the current economic recession.
- The failure to devise immigration laws that effectively balance
the United States'current economic and security needs and offer legal status for recent Mexican immigrants is an impediment to Midwestern economic development.
In addition, The Chicago Council's 2008 study of public opinion provides findings about the American public's attitudes towards Mexico, immigration and NAFTA that President Obama should take into consideration during his discussions in
- Seventy-six percent of Americans said that
Mexicois important to the United States. Compared with other countries, Mexicoranks behind countries like the United Kingdom, Chinaand Saudi Arabia, but ahead of Israel, Japan, Germanyand Pakistan.
- An overwhelming majority of Americans say that controlling and reducing illegal immigration should be a very important foreign policy goal for
the United States.
- Eighty-eight percent think that improving border security is important for
the United Statesto remain competitive with others globally.
- Seventy percent of Americans believe that NAFTA is good for the Mexican economy but only 42 percent say the same about the American economy.
For more information and to download the full reports, please visit thechicagocouncil.org.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922, is a prominent, independent and nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue and public learning.
The Heartland Papers are a monograph series devoted to helping the Midwest succeed in an era of globalization. Published by The
SOURCE The Chicago Council on Global Affairs