7 Commonly Held Beliefs About US Immigration That the Media (and Most Americans) Have Totally Wrong

United States Activism
by Amanda Machado Sep 15, 2016

1. MYTH: The biggest influx of undocumented immigrants comes from people sneaking in through our uncontrolled border.

Though we often portray the border as an uncontrolled area, between 2014 and 2015, border agents have actually more than doubled, while illegal immigration has actually decreased. But even with the increase in security (or even if we built more walls), this may not necessarily affect illegal immigration. This is because most undocumented immigrants don’t enter illegally through the border, but instead simply overstay a tourist visa once they’re already here.

2. MYTH: Immigrants are more likely to commit crime and do drugs.

Studies have actually found that when the immigration population grows, crime actually declines. A 2007 study by University of California Irvine also found that even when lacking formal education, immigrant men have a lower rate of incarceration compared to native-born men.

According to the Archives of General Psychiatry, drug use is also actually higher for white American men than for Hispanics, even when controlling for variables like socioeconomic status. Other surveys have also found that while around 20% of whites have used cocaine, only 10% of blacks and Latinos have.

3. MYTH: Undocumented immigrants are uneducated and become a burden to our public school system.

Actually, many become high school valedictorians, Ivy League graduates, lawyers and more. For example, this video by The Atlantic depicted the life of Marisol Conde-Hernandez, a student at Rutgers University-Newark who excelled in the U.S. education system regardless of her status as an undocumented immigrant. A piece by the Washington Post also highlighted the two valedictorians who came out about their undocumented status during their high school graduation speeches. One of these students was accepted into Yale while the other gained acceptance into the University of Texas at Austin.

4. MYTH: Latin American immigrants in danger in their home countries could have easily asked for asylum, instead of coming here illegally.

Latin American immigrants are actually less likely to be granted asylum, even when their countries are equally dangerous. For example, even though El Salvador has the 8th highest rate of homicide in the world, with over 400 children murdered in the first three months of 2016, 98% of families from El Salvador who plea asylum upon entering the United States are sent back home.

5. MYTH: Since my family came here legally, these families should be able to do things legally too.

As this post from the American Immigration Council argued, the immigration rules we have today didn’t apply to families in the past. First of all, they write that “until the late 19th century, there was very little federal regulation of immigration — there were virtually no laws to break.” Once we wrote immigration laws in the early 20th century, for a long time there was still “virtually no bureaucracy responsible for enforcing them.”

This video also explains how U.S. immigration has been racist for centuries, with policies often giving preference to immigrants from the Western Hemisphere, while sometimes outright banning the rest.

6. MYTH: If undocumented immigrants want to stay here, first they need to contribute something to our society.

The media has often depicted undocumented immigrants as freeloaders, using U.S. resources without contributing their fair share like everybody else. But in fact, the Institute on Taxation and Economic policy found that undocumented immigrants actually contribute over $11 billion in taxes each year. Their report found that this included “more than $6.9 billion in sales and excise taxes, over $3.5 billion in property taxes and roughly $1 billion in personal income taxes.” Undocumented immigrants on average pay an estimated 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes. To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent of taxpayers in the United States on average pay a nationwide tax rate of just 5.4%.

Not many people also know that undocumented immigrants have served in the U.S. military and sacrificed their lives to protect our country.

7. MYTH: Immigration is only a Latin American issue.

Think Progress reported that black immigrants make up 7 percent of the total immigrant population and 10.6 percent of all immigrants in removal proceedings between 2003 and 2015. Some of these people are Afro-Latinos. But over 1,200 immigrants from Africa were deported in 2014.The numbers have caused the Black Lives Matter movement to now join the fight against deportations this year.

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.