Marta Tienda is a Maurice P. During '22 Professor in Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and visiting scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation. She chaired the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Hispanics and the American Future.
Our love-hate relationship with foreign-born workers has once again taken center stage in the national drama over immigration, only now it's set against a backdrop of heightened concerns over national security and an unprecedented geographic dispersal of the foreign-born. Legal as well as undocumented immigrants are widely blamed for displacing U.S. workers and driving down wages.
Yet even as vigilante groups organize to patrol the U.S.
Immigrants are good for business. In fact, the rapid clip of U.S. economic growth might not be possible without them. Even as academics debate whether immigrants take jobs away from domestic workers, and as homegrown militias organize to patrol the nation's southern border, hundreds of thousands of immigrants -- more than half of them undocumented -- make their way to jobs in the United States every year. According to the Census Bureau, more than 80 percent of the foreign-born population, estimated at close to 34.2 million in 2004, is of prime working age versus only 60 percent of the native born. This figure includes more than 10 million undocumented migrants -- an all-time high, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report from this year.