Slowly — very slowly — America is getting back to work. And when you look at the representation of foreign-born workers across our economy, it is clear America remains a nation of immigrants.
Shoulder to shoulder, generations of Americans stand with families of new Americans, their collective prosperity depending on immigrants and immigration to the United States.
Increasingly, a skilled home health care aide from Vietnam will be just as important to our elderly as a skilled physician from Colombia. But the U.S. immigration debate focuses on the "high-skilled" worker.
This narrowing of the debate undermines the value of work. It does so by creating a double-edged sword that separates the contributions of "high-skilled" and "low-skilled" workers, which deepens social and economic divides across all communities.
Evidence is building that this separation is misguided. The Brookings Institution and the Partnership for a New American Economy recently released an eye-opening study showing the importance of immigrant workers across the economic spectrum.
Indeed, health care tops the list.
Immigrants, the study says, "are nearly twice as likely as native-born workers to work as physicians and surgeons, but also nearly twice as likely as native-born workers to work as home health aides." It also finds that immigrants are highly represented in about half of the occupations the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow the most through the end of the decade.