The Impact of Immigration

Immigration is both a state and national concern. It’s a “hot-button” topic that gets many people very excited, both for and against legislation to curb or support immigration. As you well know, one of our country’s most notable icons, the Statue of Liberty, has imprinted on a plaque at its base the famous quote:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

America, is known as “the land of the free.” Freedom is something native citizens expect as a birthright, and something people from some other countries want to achieve, often in America. But what does it mean for you?

If there’s one thing you’ve learned through your studies of American history, it’s that our country is considered a “melting pot” of peoples, races, cultures, religions, and other characteristics. Even Native Americans came to North America—at some far distant point in time—from other lands, and the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” has drawn people from across the globe throughout time with the promise of being a part of the greatest free society of all time. This video from BBC News,the changing state of U.S. ethnicity, summarizes trends in US Immigration from 1680, how they've shifted, and some possible reasons for these trends.


Statue of Liberty

Some people immigrate to our country legally, and some do not. Both cause concerns as well as fill gaps in our national infrastructure. There is ongoing debate about the status of those who come to our country—both legally or not—and how state and federal government should treat them. Should we continue to allow illegal immigrants to stay? Should they be given amnesty?

Immigrants are also seen as a threat to the availability of jobs in our country. The jobs immigrants perform span a wide range of skill types and include non-skilled laborers as well as professionals, such as doctors, scientists, and engineers—many of whom can work in our country due to a license called an H-1B visa. Do immigrants threaten our job market? Or provide valuable services? For a country built on immigrants, these are difficult questions, indeed.

How does this issue impact you? In one report quoted by The Washington Times (2013), if you live in Virginia and are 16 or older, chances are you’re more likely to have a job if you were born outside of this country. More than 72 percent of foreign-born Virginians 16 years old or older had a job or were actively looking for one in 2012, compared to about 64 percent of native-born Virginians. And, yet, many of these same immigrant workers contribute taxes and other contributions that support our state and national infrastructure. But the idea of closing our nation’s borders to immigrants or having strict requirements for those seeking jobs and livelihoods in our country is popular. What’s the right answer? What does this issue mean for a teenager in Martinsville, Virginia?

Your Task

Your job is to review the following documents and provide a recommendation suitable for review by the Governor’s office regarding your position on immigration. Either people—including students your age—should be allowed to enter our country and legally compete for jobs and ultimately become U.S. Citizens with all the rights citizenship grants them, or they should be placed under much greater restriction, regulation, or even deportation. Construct a logical argument, using deductive reasoning when merited, and support your position with the given information.


You need to provide a written statement addressed to the governor and state legislature. It should provide your position on the immigration issue. As you probably know, legislators like data, so incorporate data from the given resources to support your position. Using the data provided, consider the possible impact on your future employment based on trends in immigration. You can use data from Henry County or any area you plan to live in the future. Opinion alone will have very little sway in the state legislature. Your position should be supported by facts and figures. Everything you need is provided in the following document library. You can include any appropriate media you feel is relevant to support your position, as long as you complete the task in 90 minutes.

Document Library

  1. Your first step should likely be the review of common issues for and against immigration in our country. Review the Top 10 Pros and Cons. What Are the Solutions to Illegal Immigration in America? from Which issues resonate most with you? Which sources provide the most reliable information to determine their authority?

  2. But remember that politicians and decision makers need data to make the best decision to represent their constituencies. State legislators try to represent the wants and desires of “the people back home.” To help you make a better decision about the impact of immigration, review the following two data sites and white paper excerpt:

  3. Excerpt from: The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity by Giovanni Peri for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. These two infographics provide a different slice on the data about the potential impact of immigrants. Some impacts may be negative, such as increased demand on public services such as food stamps, unemployment, and medical services. But others suggest there may actually be an economic benefit to the immigration puzzle. You decide.

  5. It may also be helpful to review these stories of real immigrants who have come to live in our country. As you might expect, some of these stories have happy endings—very happy endings. But that’s not true for all immigrants. Some people who visit our country with big hopes and dreams find challenges and insurmountable struggles. Still, despite all the speculation and data, having first-person accounts of the lives of immigrants can provide important perspective to support your position.

Selected stories from The Stories of U.S. Immigrants in Their Own Words from