Who is your competition: Immigrants or the whole world?

By Anush Yepremyan | 9/27/15 11:35pm

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Immigration has become the topic everybody's talking about. During my international relations class a few weeks ago, one of the topics of discussion was immigration and its consequences. It was interesting to listen to everybody’s opinion about the topic, but what I found a little bit uninteresting is that everybody was thinking the same way.

One of the claims, which seemed to me to be an old, overly repeated fairy tale, was that immigrants come and take jobs away from native-born in the U.S. So, I decided to put in my two cents as well. The moment I said I did not quite agree, I had all 30 pairs of eyes on me. Wow! I felt like I was the black swan. But I do not mind being different, and I am not intimidated to look at things from a different angle.

My point was that the claim is overstated and is not true. First, it is important to differentiate immigrants who fall into two categories: legal and illegal immigrants. Second, the idea that immigrants are the main reason of the job shortage is almost like looking at the world through monochromatic glasses, which turn your world black and white. Since we live in a much-globalized world, where there are less barriers, more advanced technology, and enormous opportunities that allow many other countries across the oceans to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, the whole world is our competition.

For example, have you noticed that when you call customer service, people who answer the phone are from every part of the world? Today, many companies hire people from all over the world due to cheaper labor cost and telecommuting opportunities. Of course, not every career applies here, but most of the business jobs can be done from overseas; they just need internet and knowledge of the field. So get ready, there is a big world out there, and this is only the beginning!

My other point was that we should keep in mind that legal immigrants are customers and employees as well. They shop, which means they contribute to the economy, and they pay taxes. Now, if we are talking about illegal immigrants, they are filling positions such as meatpacking, fieldwork, etc., that the native-born will not take anyway. I am not saying that one should let undocumented individuals in, do not take me wrong. I am just saying that the real problem is overlooked.

Another guy replied to my comments by saying that a lot of immigrants send the money they earn back home to their families and relatives. I thought it was funny. Every person has a right to choose how to spend the money they have earned. Some cultures are more collectivist, some are less; some are very close with their distant relatives, and some are focusing only on immediate family only. Some people are better off, and there are people who only live on a dollar a day.

We cannot change one’s culture, but we can be more welcoming to immigrants. This issue is not as one-sided as many Americans would have you believe.

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