I am an immigrant to the United States and, like many immigrants today, I originally came on a temporary student visa, and was seduced by the beauty and vitality of this alluring land. I got married, became a citizen, and love both my new country as well as my country of origin, Mexico. My then wife was also an immigrant, hailing originally from French Canada. Our little family represents a melting pot of cultures, and our lives provide a window into the ways in which we have survived, thrived and contributed – both socially and economically.
I am a business owner, active in my local community, and my organization provides jobs for others on a national as well as a global scale. I have three beautiful sons who have graduated from college and are embarking on productive lives and careers. Our boys are part of the millennial generation, younger adults who are just starting on their economically productive lives and making contributions to both Medicare and Social Security at far higher rates than they are taking.
Both new and first-generation immigrants contribute much more to social and health programs such as Medicare than they take out. Why? One reason: immigrants tend to be younger on average than the overall US demographic, and they visit doctors and hospitals less often than older folks tend to. As younger working adults, they contribute to Social Security now, while their time to benefit from these funds themselves is far in the future. And according to a new report by the Partnership for the New American Economy, an immigration advocacy group, U.S. immigrants’ net contribution to Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund was $183 billion between 1996 and 2011. For U.S.-born Americans, the net contribution was negative $69 billion. Per person, immigrants contributed $62 more to the trust fund than U.S.-born citizens, and claimed $172 less in benefits. My demographic (aging baby boomers), will need all the help we can get, since non-immigrants receive more than they contribute on average.
Yes, when immigrants first arrive in this country, they have immediate needs like document translation, linguistic and interpretation services. And figuring out the customs and cultural expectations of a new country takes time, regardless of whether or not you have mastered the language. Support services, education, family and community help recent immigrants to assimilate, and soon they adapt, integrate, and go on to make positive cultural, social and economic contributions to society.
As a United States citizen, I am forever grateful for the opportunities offered to me as well as to future generations of my family. And, as a son of my beautiful birth country, Mexico, I am able to love and appreciate this amazing locale in which generations of my family began their life journeys. I am a product of both countries, proud to be an immigrant, proud to be a citizen, and proud to watch my sons continue my legacy as they make their way in America.