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The economic impact of migrant labor in the United States

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, foreign-born individuals now make up over 18% of the American workforce.
The economic impact of migrant labor in the United States
Posted at 1:06 PM, Mar 01, 2024

Despite the concerns about the amount of taxpayer dollars and resources going towards handling the influx of migrants at the border, data also shows migrants are a growing and essential part of the U.S. economy.

Barbara Cummings has helped nearly 100 migrant families settle in San Diego, California. She currently has two Afghan men living in her home.

Cummings said both men worked closely with U.S. forces in their home country. When it was no longer safe to stay in Afghanistan due to threats from the Taliban, they came to California.

Cummings described one of the Afghan men, saying there was nothing he couldn't do.

"He can do electrical, he can do plumbing, he can fix my car, he’s so capable, and yet…he’s doing yardwork,” Cummings said.

SEE MORE: Comparing the records of Biden and Trump on border security issues

Cummings said she has worked closely with dozens of migrants with similar stories: highly qualified and searching for work.

“I could go through a list of every single discipline: pediatricians, dentists, architects, satellite designers, diplomats … they’re all here in San Diego begging for jobs. But you know what they’re doing? They’re your DoorDashers, your Uber Eats, your Amazon Flex, your Lyft drivers,” Cummings said.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the foreign-born now make up 18.7% of the labor force. Looking at a nonpartisan analysis done by the Congressional Budget Office paints an important picture of the next 10 years.

The analysis states, in part, that immigration that began in 2022 and will continue through 2026 is “projected to expand the labor force and increase economic growth.” Immigration from those years will  “continue to stimulate construction of new homes during the second half of the 2020s," according to the analysis.

SEE MORE: Immigrant workforce in the US reaches a record high

“The workforce of this country is fundamentally migrant labor,” said Benjamin Prado, program coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee.

Prado, a migrant-rights advocate, said that many migrants do contribute in taxes but don’t see the benefits that U.S. citizens do. And their work across countless industries contributes heavily to the nation's economy.

“The labor that migrant workers contribute to this country is in the billions of dollars,” he said.

This story was originally published by Madison Weil at Scripps News San Diego.

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