Are immigrants really a threat?

In October, some of the state’s top business leaders launched the Massachusetts Business Coalition on Immigration, aiming at advancing federal and state policies that enable talents 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 salient and we all know what he is trying to imply: immigrants as a threat. The noticeable 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, apart 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 booms the economy of America. The point is, immigrants should not be portrayed as characters of poverty porn. They only appear to be so because they are easy targets for politicians to pin unhappiness and fear on. With the ongoing Mueller Investigation causing the anxiety of Trump administration, taking advantage of immigrants and ruthlessly spraying tear gas to their innocent children could be 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.

But immigrants should not be violated their rights to be free from harmful coercions. Americans should also be acutely aware of what is politics and what is truth. After all, people still have memory of the similar strategy when the media was demonized as “the enemy of people.” America should not embrace racism, xenophobia, and dramas of any sort.

To be sure, those facts don’t mean that everybody can be a legal citizen in America. Almost 44 percent of all foreign-born labor force participants in Boston arrived in the U.S. since 2000, and more than 71 percent since 1990; 46 percent are U.S. citizens, and 52 percent are English-proficient. It does take time to attain a legal citizenship.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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