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Immigration, Legal and Illegal, Good for America?

April 5, 2007

This from CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Without immigrants pouring into the nation’s big metro areas, places such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston would be losing population.

Many smaller areas, including Battle Creek, Michigan, Ames, Iowa, and Corvallis, Oregon, would lose people as well, according to population estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

“Immigrants are filling the void as domestic migrants are seeking opportunities in other places,” said Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a private research organization.

The New York metro area, which includes suburbs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, added 1 million immigrants from 2000 to 2006. Without those immigrants, the region would have lost nearly 600,000 people.

Without immigration, the Los Angeles, California, metro area would have lost more than 200,000, the San Francisco, California, area would have lost 188,000 and the Boston, Massachusetts, area would have lost 101,000.

The Census Bureau estimates annual population totals as of July 1, using local records of births and deaths, Internal Revenue Service records of people moving within the United States and census statistics on immigrants. The estimates released Thursday were for metropolitan areas, which generally include cities and their suburbs.

There are about 36 million immigrants in the United States. About one-third are in the country illegally. The Census Bureau, however, does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.
The White House floated a plan last month that would grant work visas to illegal immigrants, but they would have to return home and pay hefty fines to become legal U.S. residents.

Lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement last year on how best to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Immigration was a contentious issue in many congressional races in November.
Many demographers associate shrinking populations with economic problems, typically poor job markets or prohibitive housing prices.

“A lot of cities rely on immigration to prop up their housing market and prop up their economies,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

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