Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996 17:59:31 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Rich Cowan <email@example.com>
Subject: 13 MYTHS ON IMMIGRATION (reposted)
13 Myths About Immigration
Prepared by Rich Cowan et al. 12 April, 1996
THIS FLYER CAN BE PRINTED OUT, AND FORMATTED (12-POINT TIMES, 1/2 INCH
MARGINS) TO FIT ON BOTH SIDES OF AN 8 1/2' PIECE OF PAPER. USE A BIG
- Myth #1. The U.S. is being overrun with immigrants.
- Don't always believe what you hear on TV. On a recent episode of
ABC's This Week With David Brinkley, Pat Buchanan referred to
"five million illegal immigrants coming into this country," "one,
two, three million, invading the Southwest," and finally to "two
million people walking across your border." In response, the New
Republic pointed out that "the actual annual inflow of illegal
migrants by air, sea and land is approximately 300,000 according
to the Immigration and Naturalization Service."
- Myth #2. Immigrants take jobs from U.S. citizens and
decrease the standard of living.
- Immigrants create jobs and do not take jobs from U.S. citizens.
The U.S. Department of Labor has concluded that immigrants keep
U.S. industries competitive, increase employment through higher
rates of self-employment, and increase wages and mobility
opportunities for many groups of U.S. workers. Statistics show
that an influx of new immigrants actually boosts the economy. The
conservative Alexis de Tocqueville Institute found that U.S.
states with high immigration populations have lower rates of
unemployment. [DSA flyer, 1995.]
- Myth #3. New immigrant legislation will not affect the
constitutional rights of legal immigrants and people born
in the United States.
- In California, a new referendum called "Save Our State II" seeks
to repeal the 14th Amendment guarantee of citizenship to anyone
born in the U.S. Federal Proposal HR2202 would legalize the
concept that "Non-citizen immigrants (including permanent
residents) are not entitled to constitutional rights." Proposals
such as these violate the spirit of the constitution which extends
its protections to all persons residing within the borders of the
- Myth #4. If we let too many immigrants in, America will
lose its cultural heritage.
- America's cultural heritage is not defined by one ethnic group or
race. Nor is this country reserved for any one ethnic group -
although racists have often tried to claim it to the exclusion of
others. The United States is a nation of immigrants. With the
exception of Native Americans, all of us are in this country as
voluntary or involuntary descendants of immigrants. Our ancestors
come from every part of the globe and have all shaped and
contributed to this country. As descendants of immigrants we
should understand the importance of allowing people to make better
lives for themselves and their descendants.
- Myth #5. Immigration is now at the highest level in US
- In 1910, the foreign born population was 14.7%. In 1994, the most
recent year for which statistics are available, the foreign born
population was only 8.7%. The only difference today is that a
smaller portion of immigrants are from Europe.
- Myth #6. Most undocumented immigrants are poor people
from Latin America, Africa or Asia.
- "The largest population of undocumented persons in the U.S. are
Canadians, Irish, Poles, and Russians-not Mexicans or Haitians".
[source: "A Progressive Perspective on Immigration,".]
- Myth #7. Immigrants do not pay taxes, and drain
government resources by abusing social services.
- According to the nonpartisan Urban Institute in 1994, immigrants
and refugees pay approximately $28 million more in taxes than they
consume in services. Not only do immigrants consume very little
of welfare funds, they actually subsidize the welfare of others.
Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, pay $70-$90 billion
in taxes each year and use less than $50 billion in services.
Many undocumented immigrants pay more income tax than they owe
because they are afraid to file and claim a refund. Despite
higher poverty rates, immigrants use fewer public benefits than
citizens and are less likely to become dependent on welfare.
Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for welfare, food stamps,
or most other social programs. And, except for pre-natal care,
they do not qualify for government-provided medical treatment,
except in emergencies. [source: "A Progressive Perspective on
Immigration," Democratic Socialists of America.]
- Myth #8. Immigration laws are fair and just.
- U.S. immigration laws put strict limits on the number of people
who can immigrate from certain countries-countries whose people
are mostly poor, and mostly of color. Through these racist laws,
our government makes it virtually impossible for people from these
countries to even visit the U.S., unless they are very wealthy.
[DSA flyer, 1995.]
- Myth #9. It's not our fault other countries have
- U.S. global economic and military policies have resulted in
lowering the standard of living and damaging the stability of
Third World countries. This results in increased pressure on
people in these countries to immigrate to wealthier nations like
the U.S. in an attempt to support their families.
- Myth #10. We could accomodate more people before, but
now we have overcrowding and economic problems, and have
to tighten up our policies.
- The United States has the largest Gross National Product of any
country in the world, and our population density is much smaller
than either Japan's or Europe's. The U.S. is in a favorable
position to welcome new immigrants. We can still live up to the
ideal written on the Statue of Liberty: "Bring us your tired,
your poor, yearning to be free..." (quotation by Emma Lazarus).
- Myth #11. The current U.S. economic woes are at least
partially the fault of immigrants.
- U.S. economic woes are primarily caused by corporate downsizing
and capital flight to other countries where wages are lower. To
date, there has been no proven relationship between immigration
and capital flight.
- Myth #12. Undocumented immigrants inflict personal injury
and damage on U.S. citizens.
- According to the Nation Institute, "there is little evidence that
undocumented immigrants are disproportionally responsible for
crime." On the contrary, they are often themselves victims of
crimes, as they are less likely to report anything to the police.
- Myth #13. Nothing can be done to stop the backlash
- We can stop the backlash by educating others in the communities
where we live, work, and go to school. First, contact an
organization that monitors issues affecting immigrants such as the
H.R. 2202 proposal currently under consideration in Congress.
Read their educational materials to learn about the history of
anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and the resources available
for defending immigrant rights.
Prepared by Rich Cowan, Michelle Persard, Jesse Hahnel of the
Center for Campus Organizing. Tel. 617-354-9363. Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to the Democratic Socialists of America
For the Organizing Guide for Peace and Justice Groups, send $1 to CCO, Box
748, Cambridge, MA 02142.