U.S. immigration flows remain largely unresponsive as immigration categories become oversubscribed and the backlog continues to increase. However, immigrant advocates argue that there’s room to grow as immigrants continue to be more integral to the country’s workforce and economy.
Changing Demographics and Increased Immigration
Immigrants have been huge contributors to a flourishing America, but now their role has expanded to contribute to demographics that are continually changing. Specifically, one core issue today has been demographic aging, which advocates Ali Noorani and Danilo Zak claim in a recent paper could benefit from an effective policy response if there is sustained growth in immigration.
As a large portion of the U.S. population ages, more services are needed to counter the negative impact of the demographic deficit. As of 2021, immigrants have already been able to help with this, providing a variety of healthcare and other services for the elderly among others, which has enabled communities to thrive.
Slow Progress in Immigration Reform
Although immigrants are increasingly vital to the ability of the country to sustain and grow, there hasn’t been any major reform to the legal immigration system in several decades. Today, immigration flows remain largely unresponsive despite the urgent need for immigrants, with backlogs slowing the immigration process for individuals in every category.
In Noorani and Zak’s paper, they argue that there are plenty of opportunities to grow the immigration population and that the government needs to help improve the flow of immigrants into the country.
Chances to Grow
With plenty of space in the U.S. in rural, suburban, and urban areas, Noorani and Zak say that there’s enough physical space in the U.S. to accommodate an influx of immigrants. Additionally, the aging population is going to lead to a demographic deficit in which there will be a shortage of working-age adults and an uptick in retirees who require services.
Considering the country isn’t likely to suffer in any way from a growing immigrant population and more working-age adults are needed, the paper clearly states that there need to be certain reforms to make immigration flow more responsive. Conversely, if immigrants aren’t permitted to enter the country and undergo naturalization in a timely manner, Noorani and Zak claim that this could come with severe socioeconomic decline as a result of the demographic decline.
Although immigration flows remain unresponsive, advocates hope that the government makes appropriate policy changes in response to the demographic shift taking place.