10 Myths About Immigration

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Myths about immigration and immigrants are common. Here are a few of the most frequently heard misconceptions along with information to help you and your students separate fact from fear.

When students make statements that are mistaken or inaccurate, one response is to simply ask, “How do you know that’s true?” Whatever the answer—even if it’s “That’s what my parents say”—probe a little more to get at the source. Ask, “Where do you think they got that information?” or “That sounds like it might be an opinion and not a fact.” Guide students to find a reliable source and help them figure out how to check the facts.

Most immigrants are here illegally.
With so much controversy around the issue of undocumented immigrants, it’s easy to overlook the fact that most of the foreign-born living in the United States have followed the rules and have permission to be here.  Of the more than 31 million foreign-born people living in the United States in 2009, about 20 million were either citizens or legal residents. Of those who did not have authorization to be here, about 45 percent entered the country legally and then let their papers expire.

It's just as easy to enter the country legally today as it was when my ancestors arrived.
Ask students when their ancestors immigrated and if they know what the entry requirements were at the time. For about the first 100 years, the United States had an “open immigration system that allowed any able-bodied immigrant in,” explains immigration historian David Reimers. The biggest obstacle would-be immigrants faced was getting here. Today there are many rules about who may enter the country and stay legally. Under current policy, many students’ immigrant ancestors who arrived between 1790 and 1924 would not be allowed in today.

There’s a way to enter the country legally for anyone who wants to get in line.
Ask students if they know the rules to enter the country legally and stay here to work. The simple answer is that there is no “line” for most very poor people with few skills to stand in and gain permanent U.S. residency. Generally, gaining permission to live and work in the United States is limited to people who are (1) highly trained in a skill that is in short supply here, (2) escaping political persecution, or (3) joining close family already here.

My ancestors learned English, but today’s immigrants refuse.
Ask students to find out how long it took for their ancestors to stop using their first language. “Earlier immigrant groups held onto their cultures fiercely,” notes Reimers. “When the United States entered the First World War [in 1917], there were over 700 German-language newspapers. Yet, German immigration had peaked in the 1870s.”

While today’s immigrants may speak their first language at home, two-thirds of those older than 5 speak English “well” or “very well” according to research by the independent, nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. And the demand for adult ESL instruction in the United States far outstrips available classes.

Today’s immigrants don’t want to blend in and become “Americanized.”
Ask students what it means to blend in to American society. In 2010, about 500,000 immigrants became naturalized citizens. They had to overcome obstacles like getting here, finding a job, overcoming language barriers, paying naturalization fees, dealing with a famously lethargic immigration bureaucracy and taking a written citizenship test. This is not the behavior of people who take becoming  American lightly.

The reality is that the typical pattern of assimilation in the United States has remained steady, says Reimers. “The first generation struggled with English and didn’t learn it. The second was bilingual. And the third can’t talk to their grandparents.” If anything, the speed of assimilation is faster today than at any time in our past, mainly because of public education and mass media.

Immigrants take good jobs from Americans.
Ask students what kinds of jobs they think immigrants are taking. According to the Immigration Policy Center, a nonpartisan group, research indicates there is little connection between immigrant labor and unemployment rates of native-born workers. Here in the United States, two trends—better education and an aging population—have resulted in a decrease in the number of Americans willing or available to take low-paying jobs. Between 2000 and 2005, the supply of low-skilled American-born workers slipped by 1.8 million. 

To fill the void, employers often hire immigrant workers. One of the consequences, unfortunately, is that it is easier for unscrupulous employers to exploit this labor source and pay immigrants less, not provide benefits and ignore worker-safety laws. On an economic level, Americans benefit from relatively low prices on food and other goods produced by undocumented immigrant labor.

Undocumented immigrants bring crime.
Ask students where they heard this. Nationally, since 1994, the violent crime rate has declined 34 percent and the property crime rate has fallen 26 percent, even as the number of undocumented immigrants has doubled. According to the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates during the period 1999–2006 were lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates. During that period the total crime rate fell 14 percent in the 19 top immigration states, compared to only 7 percent in the other 31. Truth is, foreign-born people in America—whether they are naturalized citizens, permanent residents or undocumented—are incarcerated at a much lower rate than native-born Americans, according to the National Institute of Corrections.

Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes but still get benefits.
Ask students what are some ways Americans pay taxes, as in income tax and sales tax. Undocumented immigrants pay taxes every time they buy gas, clothes or new appliances. They also contribute to property taxes—a main source of school funding—when they buy or rent a house, or rent an apartment. The Social Security Administration estimates that half to three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal, state and local taxes, including $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security taxes for benefits they will never get. They can receive schooling and emergency medical care, but not welfare or food stamps.

The United States is being overrun by immigrants like never before.
Ask students why they think this. As a percentage of the U.S. population, the historic high actually came in 1900, when the foreign-born constituted nearly 20 percent of the population. Today, about 12 percent of the population is foreign-born. Since the start of the recession in 2008, the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the country has actually dropped.

Many people also accuse immigrants of having “anchor babies”—children who allow the whole family to stay. According to the U.S. Constitution, a child born on U.S. soil is automatically an American citizen. That is true. But immigration judges will not keep immigrant parents in the United States just because their children are U.S. citizens. Between 1998 and 2007, the federal government deported about 108,000 foreign-born parents whose children had been born here. These children must wait until they are 21 before they can petition to allow their parents to join them in the United States. That process is long and difficult. In reality, there is no such thing as an “anchor baby.”

Anyone who enters the country illegally is a criminal.
Ask students whether someone who jaywalks or who doesn’t feed a parking meter is a criminal. Explain that only very serious misbehavior is generally considered “criminal” in our legal system. Violations of less serious laws are usually “civil” matters and are tried in civil courts. People accused of crimes are tried in criminal courts and can be imprisoned. Federal immigration law says that unlawful presence in the country is a civil offense and is, therefore, not a crime. The punishment is deportation. However, some states—like Arizona—are trying to criminalize an immigrant’s mere presence.

Comments

granting citizenship

Submitted by Anonymous on 12 November 2013 - 3:05pm.

We should allow open enrollmrnt to un documented workers. It would protect their legeal rights as workers, pay into the tax systems that benefit everyone and would save the money being spent to remove them. I think there is some big business behind the scenes fighting this because it is the last place there is to get cheap labor for their companies. Money speaks AND wins.

The True Heart and Soul of the United States of America

Submitted by Anonymous on 14 October 2013 - 5:43pm.

Immigration is the true heart and soul of the United States of America. Without immigration, the US would not only be the great exceptional nation it is today, the US would never have existed.

Some little-known facts pertaining to this include:
The White House was designed by an immigrant.
Hot dogs in US baseball parks were first introduced by an immigrant.
About 30% of all US Civil War veterans were immigrants.

Immigration continues to add value to the United States today as it has done so in the past. Many immigrants always have been very loyal to the United States, even if they maintain ties with their place of birth as well. Though I was born in the US, my parents were immigrants, and though they kept in touch with their birth countries, they always were proud US Americans first and foremost as I am.

Everyone who lives in the United States, whether he/she is an immigrant of today or is descended from the first immigrants in the early 1600s, always must remember that immigration always have and always will be the true heart and soul of the United States of America.

It's sad that a lot of people

Submitted by Anonymous on 30 November 2013 - 10:17pm.

It's sad that a lot of people have either forgotten or don't care that the US was founded by immigration. Sure the problem of illegal immigration has to be looked at. This has to be done by overhauling the system as a whole. Simply crying out that laws should be enforced isn't good enough. Some of those laws are even outdated.

INA

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 February 2014 - 12:42pm.

I've been here since 1955. It wan't easy getting in at that time. The laws were more difficult. However, since so much has changed and so many more people have entered the US I believe that we should overhaul the immigration laws while at the same time taking a careful look at the backgrounds of those who enter. So far we have allowed mobsters and terrorists in, to our detriment. Some good people are here illegally, here for more than 10 years, working, never getting into trouble, established good credit, etc. Yet they fear going to INA because they don't have legal papers. The bureaucracy stinks where these people are concerned, and for that some of the outdated laws should be updated and some changed.

best politically correct identity I learned today...

Submitted by Anonymous on 3 October 2013 - 9:20pm.

I learned the best identify for an individual coming into the US and its territories is unauthorized migrant.

I really feel its the truest description.

reply

Submitted by Anonymous on 26 August 2013 - 8:19am.

Yeah but our country wants to give illegals a path to citizenship and i been here legally since kindergarden and have been denied 2 times by 3 mexican imigration women officials,that just happen to have the say so on my case.I'm not a felon but they keep looking for resons to deny me.Where is the reform for the legal imigrants that been here all ther lifes?Why can't we automatically recieve our citizenship?why should we have to prove ourselfs to a nonpatriot with a personal vendeta against someone who speeks better english than them?where is the fairness?

Sourcing

Submitted by Anonymous on 12 August 2013 - 4:33pm.

I would love to use this information in my numerous debates with anti-immigration supporters, but you don't provide sources. Could you do so in the future? Thanks, Shane

EDUCATE---->REEVALUATE

Submitted by Anonymous on 28 June 2013 - 1:04pm.

The truth isn't easy, it isn't pretty, it definitely isn't kind or compassionate. A lot of the time you won't like it and every once in a while it may cause you to reevaluate your beliefs. But the great thing about it is.... IT WILL SET YOU FREE.

http://personalliberty.com/2009/02/11/how-much-do-illegal-immigrants-really-cost-the-united-states/

None

Submitted by Anonymous on 7 September 2013 - 7:03am.

Nice, way to post an article talking about the cost of Medicaid and food stamps for illegal aliens. How do you think they collect these benefits without social security numbers genius?

Government agencies are not

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 October 2013 - 9:21pm.

Government agencies are not allowed to 'blow the whistle' on undocumented immigrants, it is now considered cause for termination of employment. Food stamps and medicaid are accessible without a social security number as is free lunch programs in the schools. Schools are also not allowed to require social security numbers any longer.

Thank you for giving

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 June 2013 - 5:15pm.

Thank you for giving information and advise on helping students understand how we understand and respect immigrants who have come to the US. One part that I found slightly in error was that immigrants may receive welfare and food stamps. However, you are correct in that they do contribute quite a deal to the economy and paying taxes via sales and even income. See http://www.cis.org/immigrant-welfare-use-2011

Though it is true illegal

Submitted by Anonymous on 10 October 2013 - 12:24am.

Though it is true illegal immigrants benefit from food stamps, they cannot get it for themselves. They have access to those services only through their children, if they are american citizens. That is the key, you must be a citizen to use those services.

The writer was referring to

Submitted by Anonymous on 17 June 2013 - 9:31pm.

The writer was referring to illegal immigrants, who are not eligible for welfare or food stamps.

Mishmosh

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 June 2013 - 1:29pm.

I believe immigrants are the fabric of our society. Hell, this country was founded by immigrants. History teaches us even the Native Americans aren't actually natives. They migrated here as well. My own family immigrated here from the Netherlands, and went on to farm the land and provide food and crops to the community. They came legally, but still.

As far as illegal immigrants, I don't know too much since I have just started a thorough research, but I feel they are a necessary piece of our society as well. I live in Texas, and Mexican immigrants, illegal or otherwise, take the jobs no one else wants to do. I love having streets to drive on, buildings with air conditioning, and lettuce to buy in the grocery store, and I respect the people, again illegal or otherwise, who work in the hot sun all day to harvest the food I am going to eat, or to pave the street I am going to drive on. People say they take our jobs, but how many natural-born Americans will actually work most of the jobs the immigrants hold? I know sweating my ass off in the sun is my last choice. I know many natural Americans, and white at that, who are lazy and take great advantage of the system. The system will always be abused by someone. Quit getting jealous that it isn't you.

Affecting the fabric of our society or culture? How so? This is the United States. UNITED STATES. Even in our name there is a big white flag of diversity. We are a country which unites with our fellow man, not our fellow American, but our fellow man. We are a country of many cultures. Most Americans I know eat Pizza from a small Italian man, or eat German-made sausage. You like homemade burritos?

I also do not believe illegal immigrants are placing any more strain on our system. I've seen people throwing around IRS numbers and such, but how big of a piece of pie is that really? If they weren't spending it on that, it would be misappropriated somewhere else. It would he given to the 'War on Drugs,' or somesuch other ridiculous fabrication. Our taxes are wasted daily, and the money used on immigrants is just a piece. Look at the money used on drones to bomb. If they really had an impact on our system to an extent which deserves condemnation and hate, then I think more people other than the ones with a direct interest or tie to this issue would be taking notice.

First Nation

Submitted by Anonymous on 22 July 2013 - 12:40am.

I often hear justification of the invasions of our lands because we too immigrated. One, those of us who do admit coming from somewhere else, in our case Europe. We came to a land with no inhabitants. This was no invasion. We didn't invade anyones property. We did not walk into your house and say, "It's our house; you must pack up and leave." Or worse yet kill you and your family so they can own your house. Have you ever heard about the small pox laden blankets given to my people. Is that okay with you?

Another point is that we, by law, must follow rules dictated by the Christian Bible, even though Science has proven a particular belief as wrong, such as teaching Evolution. Wouldn't this also apply to some Native's beliefs. The Navaho, for instance, believe man originated here and spread everywhere else.

I commend you on your perspective on Mexicans. Just to remind everyone else, tha Mexicans have also been here thousands of years. That the Immigration law is based upon racial discrimination against another dark skinned race by a few Southern Red States.

I Agree

Submitted by Anonymous on 19 November 2013 - 4:29pm.

I Agree with you. And also I respect sooo much your culture!! Native American culture is amazing and based on true and beauty of Mother Nature.
Thank you for supporting this cause.

Read it before you reply!

Submitted by Anonymous on 17 September 2013 - 10:31am.

To everyone who has replied to this post or is thinking about it, if you read it, it is clear that the poster is Native American. Please read carefully before you reply.

Learn your History

Submitted by Anonymous on 14 September 2013 - 7:54am.

One, when the first settlers arrived this land was saturated in people. There were tribes in every "state". It was the Europeans who slaughtered these people and set up boundaries to mark their claim of ownership. We stole this land, by military force; what is that if not an invasion? You can claim we didn't invade anyone's "property", and from a disturbed perspective you'd be right, but only because the people we invaded don't recognize "land Ownership". They believe the land belongs to everyone. We didn't walk into their house and ask them to leave, we burned them down and killed them as they fled from their homes. Religion is never a good argument, for mythology does not belong in a serious debate.

OMG..!

Submitted by Anonymous on 13 September 2013 - 3:34pm.

I hope you're trying to be funny, even though it isn't.
Europeans most certainly did INVADE other peoples land in North America...!
What was done and is still done to the Native American Indians is beyond appalling.
How do you no know what was done to them or that they were here before the European invasion?

And there is NO LAW saying anyone in the US has to be a Christian...!

You my friend need to read more.

No Invasion???

Submitted by Anonymous on 14 September 2013 - 7:44am.

Thank You!

you didn't invade???????

Submitted by Anonymous on 9 September 2013 - 8:45am.

Ask the Native Americans.

"We came to a land with no

Submitted by Anonymous on 7 September 2013 - 9:23am.

"We came to a land with no inhabitants. This was no invasion. We didn't invade anyones property . . . "
REALLY!? Were you asleep during American History class? Our ancestors literally stole this land we live on from the Native Americans.

"Another point is that we, by law, must follow rules dictated by the Christian Bible, even though Science has proven a particular belief as wrong, such as teaching Evolution."
OK, first of all, no one is bound by law to follow the "rules dictated by the Christian Bible." It's simply a religious choice. Secondly, I'm interested in when and how exactly did Science prove that teaching Evolution is wrong?

The person who wrote the post

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 September 2013 - 3:29pm.

The person who wrote the post is clearly Native American. Please read the posts before you reply.

Thank you!

Submitted by Anonymous on 18 September 2013 - 8:12pm.

Anonymous is right. Clearly, 'First Nation' is a Native American. Google 'First Nation,' see what you find. Not to mention the fact they mention small pox-riddled blankets (Trail of Tears just one example). The reference to being forced to follow government rules by the Christian Bible? Speaking of 'did you learn no history'... Native Americans were forced by Europeans to conform to their standards of society (including abolishing traditional beliefs to be replaced with Christian ideals). 'In God We Trust.'

I grew up on a Res. 'First Nation' was asking logical, educated questions.

Illegal Immigration

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 April 2013 - 1:40pm.

Hi, I was wondering if an illegal immigrant left the US willingly and was now trying to apply for a Visa is there anyway to check that they had been to the US before if they didn't have insurance or use a Fake Social Security number?

"myths"

Submitted by Anonymous on 25 March 2013 - 11:10am.

Dear Teaching Tolerance authors,
Please use another word,maybe "misconception" or "incorrect beliefs" instead of "myths." Mave myths to mean something like "traditional, typically ancient stories dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society." (to quote the Free Dictionary.

I have recently and happily renewed my SPLC membership.Thanks for all you do!

stereotypes not myths

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 April 2014 - 8:36pm.

Stereotypes

marriage to illegal in the state of florida

Submitted by Anonymous on 18 February 2013 - 8:15pm.

My girlfriend came here to the us for school legally and she is now illegal because her time expired can we get married and will this help prevent her from having to leave

hi

Submitted by Anonymous on 10 April 2013 - 11:00am.

Yes, I personally know a guy who was here under a VISA from school and it expired for a few months. He got married to a legal citizen here with no problems. He was from Palestine if that helps.

marraige

Submitted by Anonymous on 21 February 2013 - 1:18am.

Yeah.

Given the topic of immigrants

Submitted by lgjhere on 22 October 2012 - 9:03pm.

Given the topic of immigrants in upcoming elections, a wonderful new book that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those foreigners who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs Americans who want to learn more about the U.S. and how we compare to other countries around the world on many issues. As the book points out, immigrants are a major force in America. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth. Legal immigrants number 850,000 each year; undocumented (illegal) immigrants are estimated to be half that number. They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon. Many bring their skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. Chapter after chapter identifies those who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need a helping hand. www.AmericaAtoZ.com

I think that what i read

Submitted by tyler lawson on 24 August 2011 - 11:05am.

I think that what i read about the immigrants can be true and false. i believe that if you are not born here in the u.s. and you want to come to the us you should have to go though the process to become a true citizen. i also think if you get caught illegelly you should not be took back to were you came from but stay in jail in the u.s. i also thing that if you do work in the u.s. you should have to pay taxes no matter were you work. also and if want to live her you should have to learn english. i think if you live on the the border you should be able to hold immigrants at gun point

My mom and sister got off the

Submitted by Buck Cameron on 5 December 2011 - 5:49pm.

My mom and sister got off the boar in 1945. My mom had married my dad, a US soldier, in England and my sister was born there. By dint of being British, my mom spoke perfect English, but found that her new relatives in Pennsylvania had only the barest grasp on the language, even though the family had been here for over 200 years. Had my mom not married by dad she would not have met today's criteria for entry and I'd be a Brit (at least I'd have a decent nation health care program.) Perhaps you might consider getting some tutoring to help you raise your writing level above the third grade level. You might even find an Indian or Jamaican immigrant that can help you.

Tyler - I am an immigrant and

Submitted by C. Paz on 3 November 2011 - 7:44pm.

Tyler - I am an immigrant and was fortunate enough to come to this country at the age of 18 using the "legal" route. I became a naturalized citizen about eight years ago and am now about to finish my Ph.D. in Education.

I read your post that reveals your thoughts and feelings about immigrants. I think it's ironic that you advocate for immigrants to have to learn English, while your English writing is incredibly atrocious. I completed my K-12 education in my home country and can demonstrate perfect English grammar and spelling. I hope you see the hypocrisy of your statements before you demand that immigrants learn English. It's called learning the language yourself first.

I love your comment!...

Submitted by Anonymous on 2 December 2013 - 2:56pm.

First at all, I am no proficient in English, but by experience I can tell that usually, those with less education and more prejudices are the ones who speak poorly English. Also I want to give an advice for all those who believe that immigrants are or will be the responsible of "bad economy", that there are many ways to debate immigration, but when it comes to economics, there isn't much of a debate at all. Nearly all economists, of all political persuasions, agree that immigrants (those here legally or not) benefit the overall economy.
Only, those who study economy like me, can understand what I’m talking about.

c-paz

Submitted by Anonymous on 3 September 2013 - 3:51pm.

How about being tolerant to Tyler?I've learned over the years belittling someone by being smug and condescending in a hubristic and misanthropic manner very seldom will bring them to your point of view.Compassion, forgiveness and tolerance works both ways,and is not forced,but given.As a side point,I am a product of an American education,though I never finished high school,I nonetheless aquired proficiency in spelling and grammar,hopefully sufficent for this discourse.

Official Language

Submitted by Anonymous on 26 February 2013 - 2:35pm.

There's also the fact that the US does not have an official language, and therefore it seems nonsensical to require all those speaking languages other than English to learn. You should educate yourself, Tyler, a bit more on the policies of your nation. And grammar. Goodness child, you type like you're in 2nd grade.

C. Paz, I am in complete

Submitted by Mitch on 24 November 2011 - 4:29pm.

C. Paz,

I am in complete concurrence with your statement to Tyler. The stance he takes is a frequent one and rife amongst the voluntarily "lowly informed" in America. They exhibit difficulties writing and reading in their own language and yet, wish to press rules and tests upon others that they themselves cannot pass. It is comical, yet sad. I do thank you for setting things straight and I admire your pursuit of the highest education one can attain. Nice job!

Take care

I'll take Tylers side

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 May 2013 - 5:56pm.

I understand everyone wanting to jump all over Tylers grammer and the apparent hypocrisy. However poor it may be, each of you could clearly understand what he was saying...without pressing #1 for english.

What is frustrating to me is graduating college with extremely educated individuals from Malaysia, Germany, India and Africa, and one by one having to watch my friends leave the country because their visa was up. Since they weren't from a neighboring country, they couldn't sneak in the back door.

The problem is that you come

Submitted by Elly on 15 February 2011 - 1:39pm.

The problem is that you come to every issue from a particular presupposition. For example, your sidebar ite reads that Arizona passed a law legalizing racial profiling. Arizona did no such thing, and the DoJ's lawsuit specifically did not include anything on that because they could not support any such such accusations. Your bias is quite clear.

Well how else will they

Submitted by Me!!! on 5 May 2011 - 8:15pm.

Well how else will they figure out if somebody is illegal? If they have an accent, or if they say a single word in spanish? I seriously doubt that.

The article points out many

Submitted by Craig Booher on 9 February 2011 - 11:52am.

The article points out many misconceptions but also promotes some myths also.

#7 is misleading. Certainly crime has declined in the nation but to argue illegals bring no crime is silly. According to the Urban Institute, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies Steven Camorata noted in 2004: "Roughly 17 percent of the prison population at the federal level are illegal aliens.

It is wrong to imply illegals are uniquely crime prone but unfortunately there are many that do commit crimes.

#8 is naive. It is no secret that there is a vast underground economy producing illegal ID's which are often used to gain benefits and all of the other benefits of being a legal resident. To ignore that fact is odd.

#10 is bizzare. They are breaking the law but it isn't an important law so no big deal? This same magazine has articles on bullying and human trafficking. Is the point that individuals are free to choose which laws are ok to break? Really? Illegal immigration is a big part of human trafficking in the sex trade business, is that a big deal? #10 is by far the weakest point.

#10

Submitted by Anonymous on 10 February 2013 - 10:17pm.

#10 actually needs clarification, I think. Is is true that there is no actual law in the criminal record with regard to being in the country illegally. As a result, it being a civil infraction means that the remedies on the books that are available are limited (usually to only deportation) if the "crime", for lack of a better word, is simply based upon being here in an unauthorized manner (this would exclude obvious other violations that accompany it, such as identity theft, etc.). That being said, if a person comes here legally (say, on a tourist visa, F-1, H-1, J-1, etc) and overstays, it is not viewed criminally by the justice system. There is, however, a violation of the penal code when a person enters the country illegally, such as sneaking across the border. In effect, there are two different standards or systems which I think deserve attention.

Thanks, Anonymous, for

Submitted by Anonymous on 16 June 2013 - 10:02am.

Thanks, Anonymous, for improving my understanding of a complex issue.

I must refute some of your

Submitted by Maureen Costello on 9 February 2011 - 1:29pm.

I must refute some of your points:

Re #7: Of course you will see a higher percentage of people here illegally in the federal prison and detention system. Immigration laws are federal laws, so people who break those laws or are awaiting deportation will wind up there. Most criminal laws -- i.e., those involving crimes against persons or property -- are state laws. Yet the proportion of immigrants in state and local prisons is far smaller than their proportion in the population. Of course some immigrants commit crimes; but the vast majority are unusually law-abiding. We have relied on evidence gained from reputable organizations. I will just note that CIS, whom you reference, purports to be non-partisan yet has never published anything that shows immigration in a good light. If you want support only for anti-immigrant arguments, it's a great source.
#8: Yes, that underground economy exists, and we are not defending it. It's part of the reason we desperately need to fix our broken system.
#10: Law 101: Some laws are criminal, some are civil. Most of the federal laws involving immigration are civil laws. There are very few other instances in which we label violators of civil law as criminals. It's not about whether the law is important, it's a matter of being accurate about the nature of the offense.

"will just note that CIS,

Submitted by Chris on 25 February 2011 - 1:15am.

"will just note that CIS, whom you reference, purports to be non-partisan yet has never published anything that shows immigration in a good light."

That said - the Immigration Policy Center, which the original post calls "non-partisan," contains no apparent information which shows any negative effects from illegal immigration.

While I may agree with a

Submitted by Rob Utzig on 1 February 2011 - 9:22am.

While I may agree with a majority of the information presented, I must point out that 19th century immigrants had to learn English unless they remained in an urban pocket that spoke their language. While modern immigrants may be forced to learn some broken english, we have set up our government to provide them with citizenship tests, DMV Forms, Welfare and Social Security forms, all in their own language.
While the most egregious non-conforming group is the spanish language legal immigrants - the illegals learn english to help blend - many sub-cultures are being created in this country. We are the ONLY first world nation without a national language, and the splintering of our society is the result. If you can talk to your neighbor it is easier to get along with your neighbor.
The real cost of immigration can be seen in the billions of dollars spent providing government forms in hundreds of languages. The cost to the IRS alone in forms, publications, and translators was estimated in the high 8 figure range. That means every citizen is spending about 30 cents just to make the IRS accessible to all languages. Canada will never let you in if you dont already speak French or English, as they are the official languages. While you may be a valuable skilled worker, without one of those languages they will stop you at the border! In the United States you only have to show you have a real desire to be here whether it be escaping persecution or improving economic situation. NO language requirment is needed, and while immigration might have provided for more foreign language newspapers at the turn of the last century, radio then TV and now the internet are responsible for the decline of the newpapers in EVERY LANGUAGE especially English. As a Native American, I am trying to learn my ancestral language to help keep it alive. As a US citizen, I speak American English to provide me with a common bond to my fellow citizens, and i find it offensive when someone suggests that Immigration is not a problem. I have relatives who immigrated from several non-English nations, and they all spoke english as part of getting work and using government services.
I don't blame immigrants for crime, many anti immigrants groups create far more than the immigrants themselves. I do Blame Immigrants for the decay in the social fabric of our great nation. As far as i am concerned - Welcome to America, NOW SPEAK ENGLISH - or go home!

I teach English as a Second

Submitted by Becky on 26 August 2012 - 5:23pm.

I teach English as a Second Language to adult immigrants in Canada, and I can assure you that MANY immigrants come here without being able to speak English or French. Government programs provide them with free classes to help them prepare for life in Canada.

Becky, First of all thank you

Submitted by Anonymous on 17 July 2013 - 5:20pm.

Becky, First of all thank you the work you do as an ESL educator.
About my self: I moved to Toronto Canada on a cold winter day when I was barely 16 years old. I had escaped a violent civil war in my native El Salvador and although I was glad to be in Canada, I had mixed feelings about been there because of all of the new challenges I was experiencing. I won't lie, I had almost zero knowledge of the English language, after about six months of school I had learned enough to get by, and have been getting a little better bit by bit along the way. That's my story and the story of many of whom I had the pleasure to work with in many unskilled jobs I held during those years of my life.
Speaking English is necessary to make progress in some one's life while living in the US (or Canada), speaking one's native language is just a connection to one's past or cultural heritage. I personally treasure my central american/hispanic culture and at the same time embrace my north american culture.
I came to this blog looking for something else, but I am glad I found it.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your personal experiences in what is related to people migrating, is not easy.

Your own comment contradicts

Submitted by Sean Herlihy on 4 August 2012 - 9:37pm.

Your own comment contradicts itself by saying, on the one hand, that all first world countries have a national language, while on the other you note that in Canada both English and French are official. Indeed they are both equal status national languages in that country. Several European countries give official national status to more than one language: notably Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Cyprus, Kosovo, Luxembourg, and Malta. Iceland has no official language. I checked 25 European countries and all of them have either no official language, more than one official language or an official national language with a number of officially recognized minority or regional languages. Here's a wikipedia article listing nearly all the countries of the world as having more than one language with official status. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multilingual_countries_and_regions#Europe Wikopedia sometimes gets it wrong, so you can double check with the CIA World Factbook, or just look up any country on which you have doubts. You could also check the Council of Europe's "Charter for Regional or Minority Languages"

The U.S. has always given official status to multiple languages. The Articles of Confederation were printed in both English and German. Native American languages have official status. The California Constitution was originally published in both English and Spanish. French has legal status in Louisiana and Spanish in New Mexico. English is co-official with other languages in Puerto Rico (Spanish), Hawaii (Hawaian), American Somoa (Somoan) and Guam (Chammoro)and the Northern Mariana Islands(Chammoro and Carolinian). See Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States

Actually Spanish speaking immigrants have been nearly as quick as previous immigrants to learn English. The vast majority of the first generations and nearly all of the second generations have mastered English. Spanish language parents are nearly universal in insisting that their children learn English, both have more opportunities here, and as a sort of loyalty to the US.