CIANA Explains: Do Immigrants Take Away Jobs from Native-Born American Citizens?

Nearly half of New York City's workforce is made of immigrants.

Astoria, NY -One of the most common stereotypes about immigrants in the United States is that they’re lazy and depend on government benefits to get by. But in New York City alone, immigrants make up 46% -or nearly half, of the city’s workforce according to a report from the New York City Comptroller’s Office. A vast majority of immigrants- 78%- work between 50 and 52 weeks per year, which is nearly every week of the year. Collectively, they earn $100 billion a year, almost an entire third of the average income in NYC.

Another misconception about immigrants is that they take away jobs from native-born Americans. But research shows that immigration may actually increase employment levels for both immigrants and native-born Americans. One possible reason for this increase is that many start their own businesses, which can create jobs for and reduce competition between native-born workers. And since so many cleaning and childcare providers are immigrants, the native-born women they work for now have more opportunities to work.

That being said, it is important to recognize that most workers who provide cleaning services, child care, and other services, such as driving taxis or construction work, are actually native-born citizens. This counters the stereotypes of which ethnicity is supposed to have which job.

Equal Work Protections -Regardless of Citizenship

Given recent anti-immigrant rhetoric expressed by the current presidential administration, many are concerned about the future of immigrants in the U.S., including in the workplace. Will non-citizens be able to get or keep their jobs? What if they’re heard speaking their native language? The answer is simple- the Civil Rights Act of 1964 still stands, so no form of workplace discrimination is acceptable. This includes firing, refusing to hire, harassing, or threatening employees due to certain protected characteristics. Employers cannot discriminate against their workers just because of their national origin or citizenship status, or for speaking a language other than English at work. It’s true that at times during work hours, an employer can require that their employees only speak English. But workers have the right to speak their native language on breaks or with clients and customers who speak the same native language.

The Civil Rights Act also applies to religion. Native-born and foreign-born individuals are all protected from discrimination on the basis of religion, whether they are fired or not hired for practicing a certain faith. Even if a job requires a certain uniform or prohibits certain clothes from being worn at work, they must still accommodate those who wear traditional religious clothing. Any and all forms of harassment, intimidation, or punishment while at work due to religion, skin color, language, citizenship status, or other factor are prohibited by national law. Undocumented immigrants are protected as well not only by the Civil Rights Act, but more explicitly by the Immigration and Nationality Act as well. In addition, if an unauthorized immigrant is harassed at work, they can file a complaint with the EEOC without fear of deportation.