CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, December 1, 2023


December 1, 2023

December 1, 2023  

Immigrants strengthen our economy edition. Immigrants once again are under attack in Congress in a number of different ways. Just one example is a proposal under consideration in the Senate that, under the guise of ”border security,” would make it difficult if not impossible for potential immigrants to apply for asylum or parole status, undermining our moral and legal commitments to refugees and asylum seekers. Ironically, were this bill to pass, it could actually harm border security in the long run because many would-be immigrants, desperate to escape from domestic violence or communities torn asunder by gangs, drugs, rape, and other forms of violence would feel they had no option but to try to enter this country illegally. 

This proposal – and similar proposals pending in the House – would be in violation of international law, and threaten the lives of  people seeking refuge. Make no mistake – if we radically scale back asylum law, thousands of people will be sent back to face persecution and harm. Some will die – and, as always, people of color, women, and LGBTQ people will be disproportionately harmed. 

What is so frustrating is that we should be welcoming immigrants, not turning them away. It is not simply that welcoming them is the right, humanitarian thing to do. It is also that – as you will read in this newsletter – immigrants form the backbone of our economy. They grow the economy in a myriad of ways – job creation, launching businesses, paying taxes, shoring up our Social Security and Medicare. 

“Contrary to popular belief, immigrants do not take jobs away from American workers,” states the ACLU. “Instead, they create new jobs by forming new businesses, spending their incomes on American goods and services, paying taxes, and raising the productivity of American businesses. Immigrants are good for the economy, not the other way around.” 

It is of great concern that some in Congress want to make denying asylum a condition of military and international aid. CHN was one of 188 organizations to write to Congress opposing such restrictive, unlawful and inhumane policy changes. As Congress works to finalize spending bills for FY 2024, you can take action too. Tell Congress: don’t pass harmful immigration restrictions – and don’t pass other radical measures sought by radicals in the House. 



The number of civil and human rights, gender and racial justice groups that wrote to Congress on Nov. 30 opposing “cruel, ineffective and radical changes to our immigration and asylum system that would demand “impossible standards for securing asylum.” Tweet this.




Immigrants made up 17% (28.6 million) of the U.S. civilian workforce in 2021. The immigrant share of the workforce has more than tripled since 1970, when immigrants made up about 5% of the workforce. Tweet this.



$90 billion 

Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year. Tweet this.





Immigrants start businesses at twice the rate of native-born residents. Today, 20% of existing firms are owned by an immigrant, a rate that rises to 29% in New York and 36% in California. Tweet this. 




From 2010 to 2019, foreign-born workers accounted for up to one-quarter of employment growth and up to three-quarters of growth in business establishments in 248 metropolitan areas included in a February 2023 study
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In November 2022, the labor force participation rate of foreign-born workers was 64.1%, about 5 percentage points higher than that of native-born workers.




Foreign-born women make up only 7% of the overall workforce, but account for 26% of home health care workers. Because the U.S. already faces a shortage of these workers – a problem that is expected to worsen as our population ages – it stands to reason that limiting or reducing immigration will exacerbate the shortage. 




Some 36% of the workers in the farming, fishing, and forestry fields are immigrants without a college degree, as are 36% of building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers, 27% of hotel workers, and 21% of home health care industry workers. Many of these jobs would go unfilled were it not for immigrants.





Roughly 78% of the foreign-born population is of working age, between 18 and 64 years old, compared with just 59% of the native-born population, which is aging. Immigrants help form the backbone of our economy; without them, we would face a labor crisis.



45.3 million/

In 2021, 45.3 million immigrants lived in the U.S. and accounted for 13.6% of the population. That’s a smaller percentage than in the past: in 1890, 14.8% of the population were immigrants. It’s also down slightly from the 2019 figure of 13.7%.





Human Needs Watch