DOCUMENT-BASED QUESTION:  IMMIGRATION

 

                Immigration is a “hot topic” in the United States, today.  Everyone has an opinion and many people are proposing solutions.  However, pulling the real facts and the viable solutions from all of the rhetoric can be a difficult task.  The excerpts below from some of the literature on the topic of immigration come from a range of sources and have a range of ideas.

 

                Directions:

 

                1.  Carefully read the Question.  What do you know about this topic?  How would you answer the question before reading the documents?

 

                2.  Read each document carefully, paying attention to the source of each document and the author’s point of view.  Is this a reliable source?  Is this source biased?

 

                3.  Re-read each excerpt and annotate it.  Underline key phrases.  Make notes in the margin.  Answer the questions that follow each document before moving on to the next.

 

                4.  Based upon your previous knowledge and the information in the documents, create a thesis that answers the Question.

 

                5.  Categorize the information you already knew and the information from the documents into evidence that supports your thesis and evidence that refutes your thesis.  Then, make an outline that organizes this evidence to support your thesis and answer the Question.

 

                6.  Write a well-organized paragraph proving your thesis.  The paragraph should be logical and should include information from the documents and information from your own knowledge.  Remember that you must include the evidence that refutes your thesis and explain why it does not affect your decision.

 

The Question:  What is the Effect of Immigration on the U.S. Workforce?

 

I already know the following about this topic:  ____________________________________

 

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Document No. 1

 

                This excerpt is taken from the Positions page of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign website.  In it, Mr. Trump lays out his position on the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy.  In addition to being a candidate for U.S. President in the 2016 election, Donald Trump is the Chairman and President of The Trump Organization, a business involved in the real estate, sports and entertainment industries.  He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance.

 

Put American Workers First

 

Decades of disastrous trade deals and immigration policies have destroyed our middle class. Today, nearly 40% of black teenagers are unemployed. Nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out: more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000. Across the economy, the percentage of adults in the labor force has collapsed to a level not experienced in generations. As CBS news wrote in a piece entitled “America’s incredible shrinking middle class”: “If the middle-class is the economic backbone of America, then the country is developing osteoporosis.”

 

The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans – including immigrants themselves and their children – to earn a middle class wage. Nearly half of all immigrants and their US-born children currently live in or near poverty, including more than 60 percent of Hispanic immigrants. Every year, we voluntarily admit another 2 million new immigrants, guest workers, refugees, and dependents, growing our existing all-time historic record population of 42 million immigrants. We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to: help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.

 

According to Trump, what are the current problems with the U.S. economy and what is the cause of those problems?  _____________________________________________________________

 

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 Document No. 2

 

                The following excerpt comes from a Time Magazine article entitled “The Economics of Immigration: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why” written by Christopher Matthews and published on Jan. 30, 2013.  Christopher Matthews is a reporter for Time Magazine and has a degree in Business and Economics Reporting from New York University.

 

Does immigration help the economy grow?

 

         The most important factor driving economic growth is innovation. To put it simply, if American workers and firms can figure out how to do their jobs more efficiently, we’ll see economic growth. And according to University of California economist Gordon Hanson, immigrants — specifically high-skilled immigrants — are great for innovation. Immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to secure patents on new inventions or processes, and Hanson argues, immigrants can bring unique knowledge about foreign markets to American firms.

 

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Whom does immigration hurt then?

 

         Economists, as a rule, like to look at the big picture. And the vast majority of the economic literature argues that a more liberal immigration policy would be good for the

Document 2 (cont.)

U.S. economy as a whole. The problem is, of course, that not everyone is going to come out a winner. A particularly contentious issue as far as economists are concerned is the effect of immigration on low-income, native-born workers. As I mentioned before, the literature is divided on whether an increase in low-skilled immigrant labor hurts low-skilled native workers in the long-run or not.

 

         But it’s almost certain that in individual cases there will be workers who get put out of work by immigrant competition. And these individual stories of hardship are a much more salient effect of immigration than a slew of patents that make hundreds of products ever-so-slightly more efficient. In other words, the benefits of increased immigration will be spread out among the entire population, while the costs will be borne by a relatively small group of individuals who will feel the effects acutely.

 

                What does Matthews believe is the most important factor affecting economic growth and what impact do immigrants have on this factor?

 

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                What problems does Matthews see with immigrants in the U.S. economy?  __________

 

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Document No. 3

 

                This is an excerpt from a Policy Memo issued by The Hamilton Project in September 2010, entitled “Ten Economic Facts About Immigration” and authored by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney.

                The Hamilton Project is an initiative of the Brookings Institute.  It is guided by an Advisory Council of academics, business leaders, and former public policy makers, and its mission is to provide non-partisan economic research and advice on a wide range of current issues.

                Michael Greenstone has a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University and is currently a professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.  Adam Looney is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis at the U.S. Treasury.  He has a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University.

 

          The most recent academic research suggests that, on average, immigrants raise the overall standard of living of American workers by boosting wages and lowering prices.  One reason is that immigrants and U.S.-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs; instead many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity.  For example, low-skill immigrant laborers allow U.S.-born farmers, contractors, or craftsmen to expand agricultural production or to build more homes—thereby expanding employment possibilities and incomes for U.S. workers.  Another reason is that businesses adjust to new immigrants by opening stores, restaurants, or production facilities to take advantage of the added supply of workers; more workers translate into more business.

 

       Because of these factors, economists have found that immigrants raise average wages slightly for the United States as a whole.  As illustrated in the chart below, estimates from opposite ends of the academic literature arrive at this same conclusion, and point to small but positive wage gains of between 0.1 and 0.6 percent for American workers.    

 

           But while immigration improves living standards on average, the economic literature is divided about whether immigration reduces wages for some groups of American workers.  In

particular, some estimates suggest that immigration has reduced the wages of low-skilled workers and college graduates. This research . . . implies that immigrant workers may have lowered the wages of low-skilled workers by 4.7 percent and college graduates by 1.7 percent.  However, other estimates that examine immigration within a different economic framework find that immigration raises the wages of all U.S. workers—regardless of their level of education.

 

Document 3 (cont.)  

        Immigrants also affect the well-being of U.S. workers by affecting the prices of the goods and services that they purchase.  Recent research suggests that immigrant workers enhance the purchasing power of Americans by lowering prices of “immigrant-intensive” services like child care, gardening, and cleaning services.  By making these services more affordable and more widely available, immigrant workers benefit U.S. consumers who purchase these services.

 

 

                What two factors do Greenstone and Looney believe are most important in determining the effect of immigration on the U.S. economy, and what effect do these factors have?  ________

 

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Writing About Your Analysis

        After reading these viewpoints, what do you believe about the effect of immigration on the U.S. workforce?

The Question:  What is the Effect of Immigration on the U.S. Workforce?

My Thesis:  ________________________________________________________________

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Evidence:

Evidence that Supports My Thesis:

Source of this Evidence

Evidence that Does Not Support My Thesis:

Source of this Evidence:

Outline:

  1.  Introduction
  2. Thesis
  3. Supporting Evidence
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  2. ___________________________________________________
  3. ___________________________________________________
  4. ___________________________________________________
  1. Opposing Evidence
  1.  Reasons the opposing evidence is not convincing
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  2. ______________________________________________
  1. Conclusion

Paragraph

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