For the first time ever, Native Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, URL Media partner Native News Online reported last week. 

The number of people who identify as Native American and Alaska Native has nearly doubled since 2010 to 9.7 million, according to census data. And though that’s only 3% of the U.S. population, it’s still a cause for celebration as Native American Heritage Month continues.

“After centuries of slaughter, dislocation, and forced assimilation, the possibility that American Indians may be on the rise is big news,” Kaili Berg wrote for Native News Online.

It’s even bigger news since the U.S. Census Bureau now projects a population bust by 2080, as URL Media partner Documented recently highlighted.

According to new projections released last week, the U.S. population will hit a peak of roughly 370 million in 2080 before declining — though exactly when that decline will begin and how big it will ultimately be largely depends on future immigration, Axios reported.

But if former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have their way, immigration from certain countries would be greatly curbed, as Documented also highlighted.

According to The New York Times, Trump is looking to expand his first-term immigration policies if reelected to office, including detaining undocumented people already residing in the U.S. in large camps before deporting them back to their home countries. He would also seek to prevent people from certain Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. and move to deny asylum claims, citing health concerns, the Times reported.

And though Trump still has more than a year before he could implement this extreme agenda, Republicans currently in office have pushed for border wall construction to resume, an increase in pay for border agents, and changes to the country’s current asylum laws, as News 10 ABC reported.

But what Trump and other Republicans seem to fail to realize is that population growth is critical for continued economic growth and to maintain social safety-net programs, especially as populations age. In the U.S., people 65 years or older are expected to outnumber children under 18 by the end of the decade.

Between 2016 and 2021, immigrants accounted for more than 18% of the total U.S. population growth, Documented reported. Along with supporting the stagnating population growth of the U.S., immigrant communities also have an outsized impact on the U.S. labor market.

“Because immigrants are more likely to be of working age than U.S.-born residents, they continue to make up a larger share of the workforce,” Immigration Impact reports. “With the baby boom generation aging out of the workforce, this younger immigrant population will become even more critical.”

Beyond the economic benefits of immigration are the immeasurable impacts immigration has had on the nation. From art, culture, and cuisine to religion, language, and customs, the U.S. is a better place when we welcome people in. — Alicia Ramirez

Uplift. Respect. Love.

Alicia Ramirez authors URL Media's Friday newsletter and pens our Saturday newsletter, The Intersection. She is also founder of The Riverside Record, a community-first, nonprofit digital newsroom serving people living and working in Riverside County, California.