Immigration increases the poverty rate — and that’s good!

by

What’s the implication of this paragraph by Mortimer B. Zuckerman?

So why haven’t overall poverty rates declined further? In a word — immigration. Many of those who come to the United States are not only poor but also unskilled. Hispanics account for much of the increase in poverty — no surprise, since 25 percent of poor people are Hispanic. Since 1989, Hispanics represent nearly three quarters of all increase in overall poverty population. Immigration has also helped keep the median income for the country basically flat for five straight years, the longest stretch of income stagnation on record.

Richard Lamm thinks that it is evidence that “illegal immigration is hurting U.S. taxpayers and the poorest Americans for the benefit of a few.”

I think it’s evidence that averages don’t characterize a distribution very well, especially for a changing population. If poverty rates are only stagnant because the newest members of the population are poor, then that is good news for Americans who have been around a while – their incomes are not as stagnant as the average or median suggests. And being a new American is good news for the “impoverished” too!

Who cares about the American poverty rate when we know that we’re making strides against global poverty through immigration?

[I know others have made this point countless times before, but a brief search yielded only articles drawing the exact opposite inference – that immigration’s contribution to poverty rates means it’s bad to let in immigrants.]

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