Using Real Data to Push a False Narrative on Immigration
How many times are we told that immigrants work harder than Americans? Or that more immigration is needed to extend the lifespan of Social Security? Mass immigration appears to be the solution to all of the United States’ financial woes. At least, that seems to be the message frequently pushed by the cheap-labor lobby and parroted by the mainstream media.
One organization that pushes this narrative is the New American Economy (NAE), which claims to “use powerful research to… tell a story of immigration that is about entrepreneurship, out-innovating our global competitors, and building prosperity in communities large and small across the country.” Essentially, the organization is very open about the fact that they want to portray immigrants as far more valuable than native-born American citizens. They primarily “prove” this by producing reports that tout the perceived benefits that immigrants provide to state and local economies.
In one of their most recent reports focusing on the Portland, Maine, metro area, the NAE claimed, based on data from the American Community Survey (ACS), that foreign-born residents made up 5.1 percent of the local workforce, and contributed $1.2 billion to the local GDP in 2016. Furthermore, the report touts the $252 million that immigrants paid in federal and state taxes. On the surface, that sounds quite impressive, but the report fails to provide critical context. Below are some very important data points from both the ACS and Bureau of Economic Analysis that the NAE conveniently left out of their report:
- Native-born Americans contribute approximately $30.8 billion of the area’s total $32 billion GDP. So while immigrants make up more than 5 percent of the local workforce, they only contribute roughly 3.8 percent of the GDP.
- Native-born Americans contribute an average of $61,000 annually to the Portland, Maine, GDP, compared to only about $49,425 for a foreign-born worker. This means immigrants contribute approximately $10,500 less, on average, than native-born Americans.
- The median household income for refugees is $21,400, less than half the city-wide average. Refugees represent a sizeable portion – 19 percent – of the immigrant population in the area.
- Foreign-born households are 20 percent less likely than native-born households to own a home.
- Foreign-born households utilize welfare programs at a much higher rate than native-born households. The NAE report fails to take this into consideration when calculating how much immigrants contribute in taxes. In many cases, immigrant households consume far more in benefits than they ultimately pay in taxes.
Once all of the critical datapoints are included, we reach a much different conclusion. While immigrants mayindeed contribute roughly $1.2 billion to the Portland, Maine, area economy,that is actually a concerningly small amount for the large number offoreign-born residents that reside in the area. On average, they contribute farless than native-born Americans. So if the proportion of immigrants in the areawere to continue increasing, the per-capita GDP would actually decrease.
So while the NAE may be citingvalid statistics, they create a false narrative by presenting only the datathat furthers their open-borders agenda. This is an unethical practice known asthe “fallacy of incomplete evidence,” or “cherry picking”: presenting only informationthat seems to prove your point, while leaving out important relevant data thatmay contradict that position.
The mass immigration lobby haslittle interest in presenting facts in a truthful context. This report by theNAE is a clear demonstration of that. But when these organizations misrepresentthe truth in pursuit of importing a cheap labor force, it’s the American workerthat ultimately pays the price.