People accuse immigrants of gang violence, drunken driving and a general contempt for the law. But in 2000 the incarceration rate for immigrants was just one-fifth the rate for the population as a whole, according to Kristin Butcher of the Federal Reserve and Anne Morrison Piehl of Rutgers University.
People say immigrants are feckless and lazy. But in California in 2004, 94 percent of undocumented men ages 18 to 64 were in the workforce, compared with 82 percent of native-born men. Far from being part of a shiftless underclass, the act of coming to the United States makes immigrants among the most upwardly mobile groups in the nation, only a bit behind hedge-fund managers.
People say, contrariwise, that immigrants steal jobs from native-born Americans. But economists have patiently explained for years that there is no finite "lump of labor" in an economy. The presence of migrants causes new jobs to be created: Factories that might have gone abroad spring up in Arizona or Texas. Hasn't anyone noticed that California, where fully one-third of the adult population is foreign born, has an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent?
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