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Thu Apr 25, 2019, 09:34 AM

Immigrants prevented or minimized population loss in a fifth of US counties

WASHINGTON -- Erie, Pa., has a population problem: Once a metropolis of almost 140,000, it has dropped below 100,000.

But Erie's situation would be even worse without the stream of immigrants and refugees arriving to work in the city's plastics and biofuels plants on Lake Erie. Without refugees and their children, the city's population might have dropped as low as 80,000, said Renee Lamis, chief of staff for Democratic Mayor Joe Schember.

"That would mean a lot less federal funding, a lot less tax dollars, a lot more difficulty filling job openings and a lot more deteriorating housing stock," Lamis said.

"We are a perfect example of a place in need of immigrants and refugees," she added.

An influx of immigrants prevented or significantly softened population loss last year in more than 1 in 5 U.S. counties, including the one where Erie is located, according to a Stateline analysis of new census figures. Immigration either prevented population decline or cut it by at least 10% in those areas.

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Earlier this month, President Donald Trump repeated his assertion that the United States is "full" and shouldn't accept any more immigrants. But many cities and small towns across the United States desperately want more immigrants to fill jobs and keep their populations from shrinking.

Without the 879 people who arrived from other countries between 2017 and 2018, Erie County's population loss -- 1,831 people -- would have been almost 50% worse.

More: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2019/04/24/immigrants-prevented-or-minimized-population-loss-in-a-fifth-of-us-counties

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