Monday, April 30, 2007

Immigrants, Emigrants and Bigots

For those who bother to pay attention to the facts about immigration, it's sometimes difficult to not to believe the concerns of those who fight against it are based on something more than simply fear. In context, it's bizarre that the level of demagoguery over both trade and immigration resonate so strongly despite record low levels of unemployment. From Sebastian Mallaby in the Washington Post:

People accuse immigrants of gang violence, drunken driving and a general contempt for the law. But in 2000 the incarceration rate for immigrants was just one-fifth the rate for the population as a whole, according to Kristin Butcher of the Federal Reserve and Anne Morrison Piehl of Rutgers University.

People say immigrants are feckless and lazy. But in California in 2004, 94 percent of undocumented men ages 18 to 64 were in the workforce, compared with 82 percent of native-born men. Far from being part of a shiftless underclass, the act of coming to the United States makes immigrants among the most upwardly mobile groups in the nation, only a bit behind hedge-fund managers.
Hat Tip: Greg Mankiw. While I'd happily point to my parents and their respective siblings/siblings-in-law, as first generation immigrants who have done quite remarkably in aggregate as pretty much all accomplished professionals, there are inevitably those who cling to erroneous stereotypes.

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