Are immigrants really a threat? The view from Massachusetts.

In October, some of the state’s top business leaders launched the Massachusetts Business Coalition on Immigration, aimed at advancing federal and state policies that enable talent from around world to continue to thrive in our Commonwealth. 

But not everyone is celebrating our diversity. A week before the midterm elections, Donald Trump relentlessly stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment, working in direct opposition of this Coalition’s goals. He posted a video to Twitter which presents a brown-skinned murderer threatening the court and claiming to “kill more.” Trump’s message is clear. We all know what he is implying – immigrants are a threat. The subtitles in the video also blame the immigrants issue on Democrats.

Trump’s been making false claims about immigration for years. The video, and his threat to end birthright citizenship by executive order, a move that would be in direct conflict with the 14th Amendment, are just the tip of the iceberg. Immigration has been a key focus of Trump’s since his run for presidency, and it was arguably his favorite topic during the midterm cycle. In his eyes, and aside from the media, immigrants are the enemy of the people. 

But are immigrants really a threat?

Americans should not be misled but be clear that immigrants do play positive roles in the economy, innovation, and productivity of the United States. In Massachusetts, immigrants are a major part of the workforce: 1 in 5 entrepreneurs in Massachusetts is foreign-born and 28 percent of STEM jobs are held by immigrants. Immigrants are also a boon to the economy. They are major consumers and – don’t forget – taxpayers. They pay $8.4 billion per year in federal and $3.5 billion in local and state taxes, plus payroll taxes.

To be sure, not every immigrant does business that boosts the American economy. The point is, immigrants should not be portrayed as killers or threats. They are easy targets for politicians on which to pin unhappiness and fear. With the ongoing Mueller investigation causing anxiety for Trump administration, taking advantage of immigrants and ruthlessly spraying tear gas on them and their innocent children are undoubtedly effective ways to distract U.S. citizens.

The Massachusetts Business Coalition on Immigration is working in direct opposition to the president’s fear-mongering. Thomas N. O’Brien, managing partner of The HYM Investment Group, says it’s time for the business community to stand up to the White House and stand up for their employees.

“The xenophobic agenda coming out of Washington poses a direct threat to our position as a global hub of innovation and productivity. As business leaders, we cannot stand on the sidelines,” he writes on the Coalition website.

Massachusetts citizens should be acutely aware of what Trump is trying to do. America should not embrace racism, xenophobia or discrimination of any sort. Though it takes time to attain a legal citizenship, we should embrace these immigrants and help them through the process as they become productive members of our economy. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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