Today the Trump administration is set to roll out a revision of its immigration executive order, and the president's travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations has been a lightning rod in the national discourse. But beyond the controversy, it's also ignited the debate over what true value immigrants bring to the U.S. economy versus potential risks.
To make a dramatic point, last month workers around the country staged the Day Without Immigrants, a walkout protest to show the country what life would be like without its foreign-born workforce. It was an event that made headlines both during and after, as outlets around the country reported over 100 firings in the wake of the protest. Fallout aside, however, the event did raise a point. Immigrants play a huge and productive role in the national economy.
Immigrants make up 17% of the U.S. workforce, and of that, 5% are undocumented. Making up a little under 13% of the entire United States, one of the missing pieces to the modern debate over immigration and the American workplace is just how essential this population has become.
Despite the political aggression leveled at immigrants (and, primarily, Hispanics), one of America's dirty little demographic secrets is how essential they've become to the U.S. labor force, and in fact the population overall. In a nutshell, America doesn't just need to keep letting immigrants in… we might need a whole lot more of them.
As we've written in the past, the American birth rate is declining. It has for years, but last year the birth rate tumbled to its lowest level since recordkeeping began. By some measures, including the CIA's own Fact Book, it has fallen below replacement rate (the birth rate necessary for a population to sustain itself).