I’ve been trying to transfer over some blog posts I had posted on my previous blog site so all of my writing is in one central location. I realized that this was the first blog post I wrote in October 2010. While this info is a few years old, the myths, stereotypes and hostility that surrounds dialogue on immigration still exists. With new anti-immigrant laws put in place this past year in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah (just to name a few), it is more important than ever to be aware of the impact new immigration laws and Supreme court rulings have on our ENTIRE society.
Three weeks ago in the Arizona v. United States Supreme Court case, two of the controversial provisions of the SB1070 Arizona law were struck down ( Section 10, that would make it a state crime for immigrants to not have access to legal immigration documents and Section 11(a), which would make it unlawful for immigrants to solicit or perform work in the state without federal employment authorization). The last and most controversial piece of the SB1070 (section 12, which would allow police to stop people if they had “reasonable suspicion” they were undocumented) was left undecided by the Supreme Court case. So, the struggle for justice continues onward. Hopefully, this old blog post serves as a reminder to you of the importance being educated about laws that impact all people, not just recent immigrant populations, living in this country.
Myth #1: Undocumented immigrants do not want to be legal residents
Fact: Immigrants come here for a variety of reasons dealing with family, social and political unrest, job opportunities, etc. Most immigrants do NOT plan on coming here “illegally” and want to be legal residents, but the current system makes it extremely difficult for many new immigrants to keep and maintain a legal status in the country. Many immigrants entered the country on visas that allowed them to come legally but became “illegal overnight” because their visas expired.
Myth #2: Immigrants don’t pay taxes
a.They pay the same taxes that citizens do—sales tax, real estate tax, gas tax, etc
b. Some work in the informal economy such as house maids, nannies, etc. so they don’t have state or federal taxes but they don’t have any worker protections such as minimum wage or health/safety regulations so many are exploited. They don’t get any health benefits or sick leave either.
c. The only ones who lose anything are the migrants themselves who use false social security numbers because taxes are deducted from their pay checks but they receive none of the benefits that citizens would such as unemployment benefits, etc…according to NY times “illegal immigrant workers in the US are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7billion a year, yet they will never be able to receive any of the benefits”.
Myth #3: Immigrants come here to take welfare
a. Immigrants come here to reunite with family members, find work and to provide a better life for their families
b. Immigrant tax payments total $20-$30 billion more than the amount of government services they use. Also, if there are undocumented then they are NOT even eligible for welfare. Myth #3: Immigrants send all their money back to their home country
a. 90% of what immigrants make is spent in this country
b. Spending the money locally can help improve their local economies back in their home countries and is often times more effective than foreign aid because the money is going directly into the hands of those who need it whereas with foreign aid they might use it on “development” projects that only make life in the community worse.
Myth #4: Immigrants take jobs and opportunities away from Americans
–today’s economy is so globally integrated that the term “American” jobs doesn’t really make sense
–employers seek to reduce costs by moving their companies to places in the world with the most vulnerable people, who are already suffering from extreme poverty and inequality
–“race to the bottom” companies move to areas where they can exploit workers for cheap labor…the lower the costs, the greater the profit
–Pew Hispanic Foundation (non-partisian research group) found that “no consistent pattern emerges to show that native-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign-born workers”
–growing communities mean more jobs
–jobs in the US have a lot to do with global economy and not just what’s happening locally
–immigration rates do NOT have any direct relationship with unemployment rates
Myth #5: Immigrants are a drain on the economy
Minnesota immigrants start small businesses at a rate three times higher than that of the native-born population–Wilder Report on Immigrants
–based on the myth that immigrants are using more in public services than they pay in taxes…this is false they are ineligible for public services and contribute more than they use
–according to a study households that are headed by undocumented immigrants use less than half the amount of federal services than households headed by immigrants that are documented or citizens use (p. 40–“They Take our Jobs and 20 other myths about Illegal Immigration”)
–because immigrants tend to have lower wages they pay less in sales and property tax because there is less money to spend and our system of income taxes is designed to take a greater chunk of the income of a high earner than a low earner…within 15 years immigrants and their earnings have caught up
–39% of undocumented kids live below poverty level, 53% lack health insurance
–“by excluding millions of people legal rights and ensuring that immigrants will continue to arrive and that some will continue to be called “illegal”, US policies guarantee the existence of a permanent underclass” (p.45–“They Take our Jobs…”)
Myth #6: Immigrants don’t want to learn English or become Americans
–60%of ESL teachers had very long waiting lists, some up to 3 years!!
–92% of Hispanics believed that it was “very important” that children of immigrants be taught English, while 87% of non- Hispanic whites
–92% of Hispanic immigrants are completely proficient in English by the 2nd generation
–within 10 years of arrival more than 75% of immigrants speak English well
Myth #7: Today’s Immigrants are different than those of 100 years ago
*percentage of US population foreign-born right now is 11.5%, while in early 20th century it was approx. 15%
*The immigrants of the early 20th century faced similar types of discrimination that immigrants face today
Many European-Americans’ parents and grandparents did what undocumented immigrants are doing today
Between 1880-World War I, 25 million Europeans immigrated to the United States without visas or passports
“There were no illegal immigrants from Europe because there was no law making immigrants illegal for Europeans” ~”They take our jobs!” and 20 other myths about immigration by Aviva Chomsky
Myth #8: Undocumented Immigrants are Lazy
96% of undocumented men are employed
exceeds work force of legal residents or citizens by 15% points
Also, many immigrants have a much better work ethic than those who were born in the United States.
So, what do immigrants from Latin America go through in order to reach the United States??
Main methods of crossing the border…
–If you have some money…
Many immigrants pay “coyotes” who smuggle them across the border in cars, trucks, etc. Many “coyotes” are scam artists and after they get the money they leave migrants in the desert to die
–If you have little to no money…
either walk through “the devil’s highway” (a stretch of desert frequently crossed by migrants in Arizona) for days in scorching heat or take the “death train”
it is called “the death train” because it is notorious for the violence due to gangs that control the train. Many of those who ride “the death train” are beaten, robbed and raped multiple times
–500 people ride it every day
–1,000 miles through Mexico
Since 1995-2003 over 3,000 migrants have died crossing the U.S./Mexico border in their search for work and survival.
Check out this video clip following the lives of immigrants who are trying to make it to the U.S. by riding on the trains through Mexico.
Check out this website: http://www.aclu-tn.org/images/What%20Part%20of%20Legal%20Immigration%20Dont%20You%20Understand.jpg This is a chart that shows how difficult the current broken immigration system is making it to enter “legally”. This is a great visual in understanding this complicated process!
Some things to keep in mind after viewing this is that…
The BEST case scenario: six to seven years to become a U.S. citizen!!
most cases are at least 12-20 years
Unless you have a direct relative in the U.S. who is a citizen, it is nearly impossible to gain citizenship
How can I learn more??
“Enrique’s Journey”~Sonia Nazario
“Welcoming the Stranger”~Matthew Soerens & Jenny Hwang
“They Take our Jobs!” and 20 other myths about immigration~ Aviva Chomsky
“Which Way Home”
“Made in L.A.”
“La Misma Luna”
*** I encourage everyone to start building relationships with immigrants in each of your communities. It is necessary in order to bring justice and further understanding to the debate. You can do this through teaching ESL classes, volunteering at a church with a large immigrant community. World Relief is a great organization to get involved with as well. They help resettle refugees and immigrants throughout the United States.***
What is the most reasonable solution to fixing this broken immigration system??
–The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 (S. 3932)
Here’s the main points that the bill covers…http://www.globalimmigrationcounsel.com/2010/10/articles/us-immigration/federal-legislation/senators-menendez-and-leahy-introduce-comprehensive-immigration-reform-bill/
Establishes border enforcement “triggers” that must be met before unauthorized immigrants can apply for permanent residency.
Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review assets and staffing needed for border security and enforcement, and funds improvements and hiring in accordance with this review.
Clarifies that the power to regulate immigration rests with the federal government, not states and local authorities, and that the latter have no “inherent authority” to enforce federal immigration laws (outside of 287(g) agreements).
Requires DHS to track noncitizens’ departures to ensure they do not overstay their visas.
Expands penalties for passport, visa and immigration fraud.
Denies “visa waiver” privileges to countries whose citizens attempt to overstay visas.
Requires that all employers adopt an employment verification system within five years.
Creates a new fraud- and tamper-resistant Social Security card.
Requires workers to use fraud- and tamper-resistant documents to verify work authorization.
Reforming the Legal Immigration System
Creates the structure for a new nonimmigrant visa program (H‐2C) to address shortcomings in existing worker programs that have led to undocumented migration.
Expands labor protections in current H-2A, H-2B, H-1B and L-1 visa programs.
Incorporates the AgJOBS bill, which provides a path to permanent residency for farm workers and revises agricultural employer sponsorship requirements.
Legalization of Undocumented Individuals
Creates Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status for non-criminal undocumented immigrants living in the United States since September 30, 2010. LPI applicants must, among other requirements, submit biometric and biographical data, undergo security and law enforcement checks, and pay a fine.
Incorporates the DREAM Act, which creates a path to legal status for individuals brought illegally to the United States as children, provided they meet certain criteria and enroll in college or the U.S. military.
Immigration Integration and Other Reforms
Enhances programs and policies to help immigrants learn U.S. civics and the English language.
Provides humanitarian visas for Haitian children orphaned by the 2010 earthquake.
Requires the State Department to develop a strategy to reduce migration pressures.
Support the Bill: This proposed bill is the most reasonable solution we have currently in fixing the broken immigration system. Calls to congress are being made 10:1 against Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The need for change in immigration cannot be ignored or denied any longer. Congress has been doing nothing for far too long about this crucial issue in our nation and it is high time that everyone starts using their own power to make the changes necessary. I encourage you to call Congress 202-224-3121, find your representative at govtrack.us and write them a letter or send them an email.
Also, it is not just that I like to be proactive, but my faith requires that I cannot be apathetic/ignorant–especially when a social issue is directly affecting the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I will go further into the idea of “biblical justice” another time, but I believe this verse is very relevant to Christians as we discuss how we are to treat those who are marginalized. Deuteronomy 10:18-19 says that”He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” Let us not forget that Jesus himself was a political refugee and was one with the migrant and of those deemed “unworthy”by society. I could probably go off on this for another hour, but I need to stop myself and get some sleep! Thanks for reading and feel free to comment/ask questions.