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Citizenship

5 Ways Immigration Actually Enhances a Country's Culture


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Trump’s comments on immigration defy the general consensus that immigrants boost economies, expand cultures, and become good citizens. The United Nations’ Global Goal 10 calls on countries to promote humane immigration laws. You can take action on this issue here.

US President Donald Trump has criticized UK Prime Minister Theresa May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and the country’s defense budget during his state visit to the United Kingdom this week, The Hill reports.

His main fixation, however, has been immigration. On multiple occasions, the president has railed against immigration in the UK, Europe, and the US.

“I think what’s happened to Europe is a shame,” he told the British tabloid The Sun. “I think the immigration ... I think it changed the fabric of Europe.”

“Allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad,” he said.

Take Action: Raise Your Voice for a World That Is Open, Equal and Fair

Trump expounded upon these ideas in a press conference alongside May on Friday, suggesting that all problems facing Europe can be attributed to immigration.

These comments fit the worldview that Trump has articulated since campaigning for office — one in which immigrants are a menace.

But they don’t line up with the facts.

Countries, especially the United States, have long benefited from immigration and diversity. Here are just five reasons why immigration is a good thing.

Read More: 7 Ways You Can Celebrate Immigrants This July Fourth


1. Immigrants Expand Culture by Introducing New Ideas and Customs  

A Day Without Immigrants, Lansing 5.1.17.jpgImage: Abdul El-Sayed

Trump said that immigrants change the fabric of a society’s culture. Technically, they do. But so does the passage of time, new technology, social media, a native-born population, and much more.

In reality, immigrants change culture for the better by introducing new ideas, expertise, customs, cuisines, and art. Far from erasing the existing culture, they expand it.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the United States, where hundreds of different ethnic groups live in harmony under the banner of the American flag building a collective culture.

Read More: 14 Photos That Show America's Long History of Immigration

Immigrants have brought blue jeans, Google, tacos, Apple, hip-hop, and way too many other things to the US than we can list here.


2. Immigrants Improve Economies Through Hard Work and Entrepreneurship

DACA-United-States-Immigration.jpgImage: Jose Luis Magana/AP

Lots of research has been done showing the positive effect immigrants have on local and national economies.

A common misconception, however, is that immigrants steal jobs from native-born citizens.

“Immigrants and US-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs,” the economists Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney wrote for the Hamilton Project.  “Instead, many immigrants complement the work of US employees and increase their productivity.”

Read More: How One Word Could Change the Makeup of Immigrants in the United States

In the US, immigrants are generally concentrated in highly skilled STEM fields such as software development and medicine, according to the George W. Bush Institute, while undocumented immigrants are often employed in low-wage labor jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.

Overall, immigrants boost wages, expand the economy, and are more likely to start businesses than the average US citizen, according to the Mercatus Center.


3. Immigration Funds Government Activity, Helping All Citizens

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By expanding the economy, and paying taxes, immigrants fund government actions like building roads, improving schools, modernizing water systems, and running courthouses.

Immigrants are also less likely to use welfare than the average US citizen, and that includes undocumented immigrants, who pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

Read More: 17 Famous Immigrants Who Helped Shape America


4. Immigration Makes the World More Connected

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It’s become a cliche, but the world becomes more interconnected each year as people share cultures, engage in global commerce, and develop friendships with people from different backgrounds.

This interconnectedness, in turn, fosters global progress on causes like ending poverty, hunger, and gender inequality, according to Ian Goldin, the Director of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford.

Immigration is a key ingredient to this dynamic, Goldin writes. As people move across borders and participate in new countries, progress is spread and the world becomes more open.

Read More: Africans Are Among the Best Educated US Immigrants, Study Finds


5. Immigration Benefits Immigrants

zoltan-kovacs-272633-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Zoltan Kovacs on Unsplash

Immigrants travel to new countries for a variety of reasons — to seek opportunity, to reunite with family and friends, to fulfill a dream. Refugees and asylum seekers, on other hand, travel to new countries to escape life-threatening situations.

In all cases, people looking to resettle in a new country are seeking a better life, just as people have done for millennia. Creating an environment — both legally and socially — where they’re allowed to build a new life is a way to promote the general betterment of humanity.