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The Long-Term Economic Benefits and Dynamic Impact of Migrants

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NYT: ‘Immigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth’ and ‘it’s very hard to find an economist who doesn’t think that.’

Washington, DC – A new article in The New York Times, As Politicians Cry ‘Crisis,’ Some Migrants Are Finding Their Way,” offers an important reminder that the short term stresses and budget impacts from migrants on New York City that get a great deal of media and political attention only tell part of the story. Whatever the short-run costs and adjustments, economists continue to observe that they are more than made up for by their long-term positive economic  and social impact on the city and country. Meanwhile, the story in the Times portrays the real stories and potential successes of the individuals behind the headlines, who are too often dehumanized or aggregated into faceless and nameless statistics. 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“We all know New York isn’t New York without immigrants and the current cohort of migrants are no different.  Immigrants are an asset, essential and, as always, are keeping the economy dynamic and growing in New York City and throughout the U.S. The short term stresses of cities and states gets a lot of attention and opponents of immigration want that to be the focus. But the bigger picture is that for New York and countless other cities, each migrant has a story and a unique contribution to the overall fabric of the city and its economy. Policies aimed exclusively at preventing migration or pushing migrants into a black market of smuggling and living underground are not serving the country well. It is in our self-interest to find the balance of a controlled system of migration, a recommitment to integrating and incorporating immigrants fully into our communities, and tapping the economic potential that powers American society today and throughout our history.”

Read the full The New York Times article,“As Politicians Cry ‘Crisis,’ Some Migrants Are Finding Their Way,” here and find excerpts below:

“Mayor Eric Adams begged for federal help, disparaged President Biden and warned that the city was being ‘destroyed.’

But unseen and unheard were economists and social scientists, who point out that the immediate controversy has overshadowed an established truth: The city was built by waves of migrants who settled in, paid taxes, buttressed a labor force, started businesses and generally lifted the communities they joined.

This latest group will do the same, they argued.

Without immigrants, New York City would be shrinking. Even if New York never recovers what it spends now, the economists and historians say, the migrants will eventually be good for the city.

…‘Yes, for a little while, maybe some of them need a little assistance,’ said Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis. ‘But if you take a deep breath, you see that American cities will benefit from these people who are coming to work.’

In the long run, economists and historians see a familiar picture: A spike in immigration stirs heated political debate, even as people who immigrate, both legally and illegally, begin to set down roots and start contributing economically.

‘Immigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth,’ according to a National Academy of Sciences report published by 29 of the nation’s top economists and demographers.

‘It’s very hard to find an economist who doesn’t think that,’ said Tara Watson, an economist at Williams College.

…The path of Ms. Antolinez and her husband, Darwin Valbuena, is already tracking with economists’ expectations for migrants. The family fled San Cristobal, a small city in Venezuela, over a year and half ago, after a bodega they owned was struck by robbers. Ms. Antolinez was seven months pregnant.

After crossing into California, the couple applied for asylum, flew to LaGuardia airport, and in January 2022 moved into the two-bedroom apartment of Rut Ostos, an Evangelical pastor who had married them back home.

Now, with hustle and a little help, the family has gained a toehold in New York City.

A member of Ms. Ostos’s church offered the Valbuenas a four-bedroom apartment in Corona that they rent with two other families. Mr. Valbuena, a former professional soccer player, has two soccer coaching jobs and plans to open his own soccer academy.

…‘I had nothing,’ Cristina said of her arrival in New York. Until, she added, ‘I found a community that has helped me.’”