Why we need immigrants

Without going into the details (I’ve described them “here” before) the high school I attended was a rather large (about 6,000 student, 10 floor school with a dozen elevators) hands-on STEM school which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It is a public school (run by NYC Department of Education) with a competitive entrance exam.

It has also always had a student body made up largely of first or second generation immigrants, most of whom lived (and most students currently live) below the poverty line. Nearly 100% of the student body graduates and go on to college with the majority ending up in the nation’s top educational institutions. It’s alumni include four Nobel laureates as well as hordes of successful professionals and businesspeople.

The school modifies its curriculum to stay current and tends to teach subjects at the colleges or graduate school level. The school is large enough to run a large number of college-level majors simultaneously. For example, in their Software Engineering major, current term-long courses are given in cybersecurity, Big Data and seniors have already passed two college level Advanced Placement college courses as well as studied Java, Web Development and taken a course in IT Infrastructure.

I just received their quarterly magazine which highlights a handful of seniors from a variety of educational majors. A number of their essays have statements typified by “I grew up not having resources. I came to understand the gravity of living in poverty as an Asian American”.

I found the demographics of this more or less random group of Senior students and their college destination to be illustrating:

Dora Chan, Finance Major
College: Baruch
Born: Brooklyn
Parents born: Hong Kong, China

Admir Cekic, Chemical Engineering Major
College: Cornell
Born: Brooklyn
Parents born: Montenegro

Daniel Ochoa, Applied Mathematics Major
College: Columbia
Born: Brooklyn
Parents boen: Peru

Aleksandra Pawlowska, Chemistry Major
College: Columbia
Born: Queens
Parents born: Poland

Stephan McGlashan, Applied Mathematics major
College: NY State University, Buffalo
Born: New York
Parents born: Jamaica

Thomas Larson
College: M.I.T.
Born Staten Island
Parents born: Staten Island

Shameha Islam, Software Engineering major
College: City College of New York
Born: Bangladesh
Parents born: Bangladesh

Nicole Lee, Civil engineering major
College: City College of New York
Born: New York
Parents born: China (from a “long line of farmers”)

Ayaan Ali, Law & Society major
College: Columbia
BOrn: Detroit
Parents born: Pakistan

Michelle Li, Physics major
College: New York University
Born: Manhattan
Parents born: China

The point is that these students (and their classmates) are likely to go on to succeed at whatever they end up doing as adults. Over the tenure of the school, it has had approximately 150,000 graduates which have contributed significantly to our nation (including the “inventors” of the GPS system and the digital camera), yet the parents of the students were no different than the undifferentiated “typical” impoverished immigrant or asylum seeker. These are now American citizens and the theory that they will be “taking jobs from Real Americans” is bogus as they are as American as someone whose great-grandfather was an immigrant. They are graduating from one of the most challenging educational environments in the nation (where every student is expected by their parents to be the smartest student in the class - if not in the school) and it will be up to those they compete with in the future to prove that they can rise to their level.

Take a look at the principles and officers of our high-tech companies, pharmaceutical firms, financial firms and so on and you will find that, while immigrants and their children are a minority of our population, they form an out of proportion cadre at the top.

No immigration officer is clairvoyant and none can predict how much will be contributed to our nation by their children. Our population’s age distribution is lopsided and we need immigrants to provide a new layer of workers and taxpayers and it is obvious that our immigration structure is very broken indeed.

Jeff

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Jeff, you went to a highly unusual school.

Here in flyover country, everything that is not needed to pass some mandatory competency test is being dropped as education budgets are cut. Many schools have dropped shop classes. Some no longer offer driver’s ed, even as an elective. Going by media hysteria, the thing most valued about high school and college is football.

Chew on this. Shiny-land’s population is about 60% non-Hispanic white, but the college population is only 51% white. The largest demographic in the country is less interested in education than the average.

College enrollment in Shiny-land has been falling since 2010. In Michigan, only the flagship universities, U of M and Michigan State, have seen growth in enrollment. The second tier state universities, as a group, have seen enrollment fall. Recently, the local media was running a hysteria campaign about Central Michigan’s enrollment falling 40% in the last 10 years.

Steve

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Jeff,

Do you think we need immigrants to get work done? Or do we need immigrants to keep costs down? If that latter that is not going to win the day. The next three generations want those costs to rise.

As far as getting work done? Who needs to eat out seven times a week. We can do without excellent table service or counter workers if people can not do a damned thing for themselves. That also applies to the baby boomers not the younger folks.

I hear my friends in every haunt my age complaining. I think complaining is way overrated.

I passed a Target’s today which had a “help wanted” sign indicating that salaries were $17.85 and up. We currently have nearly full employment and the private sector is still trying to hire.

OTOH, a major portion of the college educated American youth have “general” degrees which don’t provide them with significant job skills and they may as well apply for those jobs as many of the jobs requiring a technical education will (and should) go to students like I referred to in the OP who, while not necessarily smarter than their “general purpose” competitors certainly have the advantage of being already equipped for professional employment.

Jeff

Most people with a degree don’t actually use it in their employment. Like, according to this report, 73%:

Particularly with things moving so fast these days it seems unlikely that textbook learning will remain current enough to matter for any but a small percentage of graduates. College is supposed to make you think, not necessarily fill you full of facts or methods which may soon become outdated.

(Personally I’m one who thinks there is a tremendous over emphasis on college, and would like to see more training in other areas, but then nobody asks me. I also think it’s a big status thing among many.)

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A college diploma does indicate a student who knows how to learn on their own, show up at class, and stick with the program. Those skills make them employable even though they don’t use what they learned in college.

You also expect them to have a broader view and to be able to think and write.

Moreover, there are so many out there its easy for employers to require a college degree.

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People need college degrees badly. Why? Because people have more than one job in the course of a few decades of working. People change jobs. Eventually old college skills do get used and more…The foundation of a good college degree means profiting handsomely later in life as those comprehensively learned skills may become key to any business ventures.

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Here’s another reason we need immigrants: babies.

Legal-immigrant women average 2.6 births each over their lifespan. That’s about 1/3 higher than non-immigrants, which means the latter average about 1.7. The level needed simply to replace the current population is somewhere between 2.0 and 2.2. (The combined rate - for legal and illegal immigrants plus non-immigrant Americans - is about 2.0.)

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