LatinaLista — Dr. Dowell Myers, professor of urban planning and Demography at the University of Southern California, held a telephonic press briefing this afternoon, sponsored by the Washington D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center.
Professor Dowell Myers
The occasion was the release of Dr. Myers' report: "Thinking Ahead About Our Immigration Future: New Trends and Mutual Benefits in Our Aging Society."
In a kind of folksy, self-deprecating manner, Dr. Myers laid out the facts about immigration, as the numbers show them to be. He wonders why there is such a rabid intensity to expel the very population who will be the saving grace of this country in a few years.
According to Dr. Myers' research, the U.S. is getting older â€” fast. Dr. Myers says this is the real crisis facing the United States today.
One number that puts this crisis into perspective is 67 percent â€” the degree to which the ratio of seniors (age 65 and older) to working-age adults (25 to 64) will be thrown out of balance over the next 20 years.
Since seniors depend on the labor of working-age adults to live comfortably in their retirement years, Dr. Myers' data shows that retirement may have to wait for many, many people.
With such an imbalance in society, seniors will exasperate the problem by leaving the workforce en masse, and thus leave a workforce struggling to find replacements for them.
So severe are these (job) losses that the growth of the workforce will be driven perilously low â€” perhaps below zero in many states â€” which will depress economic growth as a whole. In addition, retirees will transition from being net taxpayers to net recipients of health and pension benefits, and they will be supported by a smaller workforce that is struggling to meet its own needs.
It's not only the labor force the seniors will adversely affect, but also the housing industry. There will be 67 percent more people selling homes than are able to buy them.
This is a new story that has emerged from the immigration debate. Dr. Myers noted that the foundation of today's current rhetoric is based on old stories that once were true regarding immigration but are no longer substantiated by the numbers.
In fact, during the telephonic press briefing, Dr. Myers remarked how one source, NUMBERS USA, that mainstream media likes to turn to for its numbers on immigration, is in a bad habit of taking valid data but distorting it to present an intimidating picture of immigration.
Truth be told, Dr. Myers says that immigration is in fact leveling off. Mexico which used to have a very high fertility rate, now has a very low rate - 2.4. It disturbs Dr. Myers because he says that the immigrant labor is what will sustain the United States when more Baby Boomers retire but with such a low birthrate in Mexico, the pool of available labor will change dramatically in the future.
If Mexico doesn't have the supply of ready labor to send to this country, the US economy will truly be in a crisis.
He states that the federal government does need to come to the rescue of localities when it comes to bearing the burden of immigrants â€” but not to deport them. Dr. Myers says that the federal government needs to help out localities with the financial burden of educating and caring for immigrants.
Because towns and cities should not see educating immigrant children as a drain on their economy but rather an investment in their future workforce. The goal of any state/city/town should be an educated workforce.
The report also dispels the notion that immigrants don't assimilate, they do. Yet, no one assimilates as a newcomer. It takes time, but it does happen.
As Dr. Myers noted, the purpose of any legislative policy is not to address the past, but prepare for the future to make it better.
A true immigration reform bill must take into account the realities that lay ahead for this country and not be a reaction to the distortions presented by some who don't like progress or the changing face of America.
Otherwise, the Golden Years may never arrive or arrive too late to be enjoyed.