Union Member Defends Immigrants

With the media hyping up the tension between immigrants and union members in workplaces across the nation, one letter to the editor featured in the Washington Post on Saturday came as a breath of fresh air. In the letter, titled "Overblown Fears of Immigration", the president of a New York chapter of the Service Employees Credit Union defends immigrants contributions to our country's economy.

Steven A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies argues for less immigration despite the fact that the graying of our workforce will cause severe labor shortages ["How Many Americans?" op-ed, Sept. 2].

This is not just a flawed policy prescription; it also turns a blind eye to the contributions immigrants make to our economy. Immigrants generate some $700 billion in economic activity, mostly by doing low-wage service jobs. Immigrants -- those here legally and otherwise -- pay taxes that go to schools, infrastructure and public programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

The ratio of retirees to working-age citizens is forecast to increase by 67 percent in the next 20 years. With retirement draining our labor supply, immigrants not only help keep our economy strong, they also are indispensable to keeping our economy running in the long term.



President, Local 32BJ


Service Employees International Union



New York