America Grows with Legal Immigration

Legal immigration has resulted in solid growth of the U.S. population, despite declining birth rates and an increasing number of old people.

This is good news for investors in stocks and real estate .

(See: “Profits and Population“)

Despite loud railing against illegal immigration by Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan, the real story is the size and scope of legal immigration, as the graph indicates.

US Legal Immigration
US Legal Immigration

Illegal immigration appears to be less than 5% of legal immigration, and legal immigration is at an all time high.

A Second Great Wave of Immigrants

The graph shows that we are now riding up the slope of the second great wave of U.S. immigration.

  1. The first wave started with the indigent coming to America as indentured servants and slaves, enduring perilous passage by sea on sailing ships. An abundance of land and an opportunity to be self-employed in agriculture attracted the early settlers. By the 1880s, the frontier had disappeared and industrialization reigned. (See: “Capitalism Evolves“)

  2. In the latter half of the 19th century, screw propellers and iron steam ships made transatlantic passage safer and cheaper, attracting millions of Europeans who wanted to escape war, oppression, and poverty. However, these immigrants came not with the hope of becoming self-employed farmers, but rather intent on living in cities and working in factories. This created more labor than capital, giving rise to worker unrest.

  3. In 1869, the first union, the Knights of Labor, was formed. By 1910 there were 800,000 unionized workers with growing political power. Within a generation of the inauguration of the Statue of Liberty, rather than welcoming the ‘huddled masses’ to America’s shores, unionized labor combined with home-grown xenophobes to lobby for ‘immigration reform’ and quotas.

  4. During the first half of the 20th century, labor unions continued to grow powerful, as American industry became the most productive on earth. By 1940, there were 27.6 million union workers, solidly backing the Democratic Party and quotas on immigration. As the graph shows, legal immigration fell from almost nine million in 1910 to less than one million during World War II.
    (See: “FDR and Workers’ Capitalism“)

  5. After World War II, anti-business policies favored by the dominant Democratic Party, backed by labor unions, drove U.S. business abroad, resulting in deindustrialization across the ‘rust belt’. With less industry to provide jobs, union membership fell and by the 21st century only 8.9 million union members remained in the private sector, less than one third the membership of the 1940s, although the population had doubled.

  6. As union power waned, so did restrictions on immigration. During the second half of the 20th century, as the graph shows, legal immigration, mainly by jumbo jet, grew steadily, until by the millennium the record levels of one hundred years earlier were surpassed. These new immigrants were made up of refugees from World War II, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and the Cold War, as well as economic refugees from failing economies in Latin America and international employees and their families pushed by the globalization of business.

Whereas, the first wave of immigration, at its peak, amounted to 10% of the population each year, with an obvious impact on the labor market, the annual flow from the newly rising wave is less than 4% of the population, serving to counterbalance declining birth rates and ensure expansion of the Gross Domestic Product.

The question of illegal aliens seems to be related more to matters of national security, the culture war, and political posturing, than to the more important issues of the desired level of immigration and quotas.

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