The issue of immigration in the United States as a whole has been the subject of unending debate for a long time. The State of California is no different. Many authors and scholars have written about the policies governing immigration in California, some criticizing them while others were praising them. The lawmakers have also been loud in urging the government to reform the immigration laws, so as to address an aspect of overcrowding. While others call for more stringent laws, others cry out for flexibility in the policies. Regardless of the difference in opinion and attitude towards the subject, the truth of the matter is that the impact of immigration in the state of California is not one sided. As much as there is a negative impact, the positive impact should never be ignored at any cost. If policy reforms are necessary, then consideration must be given to both sides.
Immigration in California has hit high numbers in the last three or so decades. In her article, ‘State needs a time-out,’ Yeh Ling brings out her opinion as well as the reality. She argues against flooded with highly unskilled labor force, hence reducing productivity in the state. This allegation receives support by the fact that many immigrants in California are from countries south of the United States, such as Mexico and Bermuda, and the majority of them are high school dropouts. This makes them incompetent for the jobs requiring highly skilled people, which is a drawback to economic development.
The next issue addressed by Yea Ling entails the job opportunities and creation. She is of the opinion that the immigrants reduce job opportunities for natives, by providing competition in the job market. This is majorly because there are no clear rules and regulations to limit the ratio of immigrants being employed against the natives. The same results into the natives being unemployed in their own home soil, while the fruits of the economy being enjoyed by foreign dwellers. This argument can be said to be of substance, since many immigrants in the United States, not only California, are there for job-seeking purposes, and this possess a big threat to the native population that is unemployed.
Another argument by Ling regards the strain that these immigrants impose on both the state and national government, in terms of provision of public services and facilities. As if the burden of serving its own people is not big enough, the state of California is forced to carry an additional burden of serving the immigrants. What makes this even more difficult and uneconomical is the fact that, the taxes paid by this group of immigrants are not enough to cater for the services that they receive, and, therefore, adversely affecting the state’s budget. This can be said to be a valid argument, since it always raises the question of whether the government should plan for foreign dwellers whose number can never be ascertained.
Deteriorating standards of living is the final concern for Yeh Ling. This is majorly caused by the strain imposed on the state’s annual budget, which becomes stretched due to the rapidly increasing population. The fact that the little available resources have to be shared among the double figures makes service and utility provision by the government not to be efficient, and neither can it be sufficient. This is so because the government cannot segregate by just providing for the natives and leaving out the immigrants.
However, the big debate does not end there. While the likes of Yeh Ling are against the increased immigration, the likes of Gibbs Jewelle and Bankhead have nothing against it, but many praises. According to them, immigration benefits the state of California in a number of ways, part from just adding to the states culture and diversity. They assert that the economic contribution by immigrants compensates for their competition to the natives. This is due to the fact that a good number of them come highly skilled in various fields, and hence able to contribute to the state’s economy by supplying it with competent skills and experience those results in economic growth and development. This implies that there are some skills possessed by these immigrants that are not found in the native population. Another positive is the fact that due to the aging factor among the natives, there is a decrease in labor supply in some economic fields. This gap is well filled by these immigrants, and, therefore, their presence in California should be embraced and appreciated rather than being criticized.
Another positive impact argued by Gibbs and Bankhead is that more job opportunities are created for the natives, since the low-skilled and almost un-educated immigrants are best served with manual jobs, hence reducing competition for the high paying jobs, which are entirely left for the natives who are deemed to be well educated and highly skilled.
Borjas, George J. Mexican Immigration to the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Haines, David W and Carol A Mortlana. Americanizing Immigrants and Internationalizing Americans. New York: Praeger, 2010.
Mc Carthy, Kevin F and Georges Vernez. Immigration in a Changing Economy; California's Experience. Chicago: Rand, 2010.