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Top 10 Immigration Myths and Facts [List Edits]

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Open Edit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-03-08 11:11 PM
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Top 10 Immigration Myths and Facts
Edited on Tue Jun-03-08 11:22 PM by AlphaCentauri
This new topic is awaiting edits. It was started by AlphaCentauri.

1. Immigrants don’t pay taxes
All immigrants pay taxes, whether income, property, sales, or
other. As far as income tax payments go, sources vary in their
accounts, but a range of studies find that immigrants pay
between $90 and $140 billion a year in federal, state, and local
taxes. Even undocumented immigrants pay income taxes, as
evidenced by the Social Security Administration’s “suspense file”
(taxes that cannot be matched to workers’ names and social
security numbers), which grew $20 billion between 1990 and

2. Immigrants come here to take welfare
Immigrants come to work and reunite with family members.
Immigrant labor force participation is consistently higher than
native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of
the U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population
(11.5%). Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public
benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently
favorable to the U.S., unless the “study” was undertaken by an
anti-immigrant group. In one estimate, immigrants earn about
$240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and
use about $5 billion in public benefits. In another cut of the
data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than
the amount of government services they use.
Due to welfare reform, legal immigrants are severely restricted from accessing public benefits, and undocumented
immigrants are even further precluded from anything other than emergency services. Anti-immigrant groups skew
these figures by including programs used by U.S. citizen children of immigrants in their definition of immigrant
welfare use, among other tactics.

3. Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries
In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households,
immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax
revenue to U.S. federal, state, and local governments. While it
is true that immigrants remit billions of dollars a year to their
home countries, this is one of the most targeted and effective
forms of direct foreign investment.

4. Immigrants take jobs and opportunity away from Americans
The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early
1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate
and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create
jobs for U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students
allow many U.S. graduate programs to keep their doors open.
While there has been no comprehensive study done of
immigrant-owned businesses, we have countless examples: in
Silicon Valley, companies begun by Chinese and Indian
immigrants generated more than $19.5 billion in sales and
nearly 73,000 jobs in 2000.

5. Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy
During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born,
filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and
low-skill ends of the spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in key
sectors, start their own businesses, and contribute to a thriving
economy. The net benefit of immigration to the U.S. is nearly
$10 billion annually. As Alan Greenspan points out, 70% of
immigrants arrive in prime working age. That means we
haven’t spent a penny on their education, yet they are
transplanted into our workforce and will contribute $500 billion
toward our social security system over the next 20 years.

6. Immigrants don’t want to learn English or become Americans
Within ten years of arrival, more than 75% of immigrants speak
English well; moreover, demand for English classes at the adult
level far exceeds supply. Greater than 33% of immigrants are
naturalized citizens; given increased immigration in the 1990s,
this figure will rise as more legal permanent residents become
eligible for naturalization in the coming years. The number of
immigrants naturalizing spiked sharply after two events:
enactment of immigration and welfare reform laws in 1996, and
the terrorist attacks in 2001.

7. Today’s immigrants are different than those of 100 years ago
The percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born now
stands at 11.5%; in the early 20th century it was approximately
15%. Similar to accusations about today’s immigrants, those of
100 years ago initially often settled in mono-ethnic
neighborhoods, spoke their native languages, and built up
newspapers and businesses that catered to their fellow émigrés.
They also experienced the same types of discrimination that
today’s immigrants face, and integrated within American culture
at a similar rate. If we view history objectively, we remember
that every new wave of immigrants has been met with
suspicion and doubt and yet, ultimately, every past wave of
immigrants has been vindicated and saluted.

8. Most immigrants cross the border illegally
Around 75% have legal permanent (immigrant) visas; of the
25% that are undocumented, 40% overstayed temporary (nonimmigrant)

9. Weak U.S. border enforcement has lead to high undocumented immigration
From 1986 to 1998, the Border Patrol’s budget increased sixfold
and the number of agents stationed on our southwest
border doubled to 8,500. The Border Patrol also toughened its
enforcement strategy, heavily fortifying typical urban entry
points and pushing migrants into dangerous desert areas, in
hopes of deterring crossings. Instead, the undocumented
immigrant population doubled in that timeframe, to 8 million—
despite the legalization of nearly 3 million immigrants after the
enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986.
Insufficient legal avenues for immigrants to enter the U.S.,
compared with the number of jobs available to them, have
created this current conundrum.

10. The war on terrorism can be won through immigration restrictions
No security expert since September 11th, 2001 has said that
restrictive immigration measures would have prevented the
terrorist attacks—instead, they key is good use of good
intelligence. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were here on legal
visas. Since 9/11, the myriad of measures targeting immigrants
in the name of national security have netted no terrorism
prosecutions. In fact, several of these measures could have the
opposite effect and actually make us less safe, as targeted
communities of immigrants are afraid to come forward with

Prepared by the National Immigration Forum, June 2003

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