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Local View: Power in legal immigration
Local View

Local View: Power in legal immigration

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In 2019, the number of babies born in the U.S. hit the lowest point in more than three decades. According to a new federal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this new level continued a five-year downward trend.

American women are now projected to have about 1.71 children over their lifetimes – down 1% from 2018 and below the rate of 2.1 needed to exactly replace a generation.

The fertility rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and has been consistently below replacement since 2007. According to newly released estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, “The U.S. population grew by 1,552,022 since 2018 -- an increase of one-half of one percent. That rate of growth is slower than during the Great Depression of the 1930s, a period which had until the past decade marked the smallest expansion of the U.S. population since the overall number of inhabitants briefly dropped in 1918.”

From 2017 to the present, legal immigration has been cut in half by the Trump administration. By 2021, Donald Trump will have reduced legal immigration by 49% since becoming president.

According to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis, “Reducing legal immigration most harms refugees, employers and Americans who want to live with their spouses, parents or children, but it also affects the country’s future labor force and economic growth.”

Another authoritative study of the economic effects of immigration, recently published by the National Academies of the Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, found that, “Immigration boosts economic growth in the long term and modestly improves the country’s demographic profile as the native population ages.”

So, as our population slowly ages, a responsible but more expansive legal immigration policy would, in my opinion, be in the national interest.

Aside from the demographic imperative to support legal immigration, immigration boosts the economy in the U.S. and Nebraska. In Nebraska 138,953 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 7.0% of the population in 2018.

According to the American Immigration Council, “About one in 14 Nebraskans was born in another country, and foreign-born residents help support the state's economy across all business sectors. Immigrants are a critical component of the Nebraskan labor force: 18 percent of the state’s life, physical, and social science professionals are immigrants, as are 22 percent of Nebraskans working in production occupations. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Nebraska’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.”

Associates of former Gov. Jeb Bush offer an interesting metaphor regarding the immigration issue. Bush and co-author Clint Bolick wrote in their book, Immigration Wars, “When immigration policy is working right, it is like a hydroelectric dam: a sturdy wall whose valves allow torrents of water to pour through, creating massive amounts of dynamic energy.”

Under this metaphor, the outside world is not a threat: It’s a source of creativity, dynamism and perpetual renewal.

Sen. John McCollister of Omana represents District 20.

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