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Sources | Ten Myths About Immigration

A list of sources that help to dispel common immigration myths.

Editor’s note: These sources accompany "Ten Myths About Immigration," a feature story originally published in 2011 and updated in 2017 to reflect current statistics, policies and conditions in the United States.
 

1. Most immigrants are here illegally.

Anna Brown and Renee Stepler, “Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States,” Pew Research Center, April 19, 2016.

Jeffrey S. Passel, D’Vera Cohn, Jens Manuel Krogstad and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, “As Growth Stalls, Unauthorized Immigrant Population Becomes More Settled,” Pew Research Center, September 3, 2014.

Jens Manuel Krogstad, Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “5 Facts About Illegal Immigration in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, November 3, 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau, “Current Population Survey,” 2013.

Cassie M. Chew, “Forty Percent of Non-Citizens Live in U.S. on Expired Visitor, Student Visas,” PBS News Hour, April 23, 2013.

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Homeland Security Produces First Estimate of Foreign Visitors to U.S. Who Overstay Deadline to Leave,” Pew Research Center, February 3, 2016.
 

2. It’s easy to enter the country legally. My ancestors did; why can’t immigrants today?

Teaching Tolerance, Interview with David Reimers, professor emeritus of history at New York University, Fall 2010.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Early American Immigration Policies.”

U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act).”

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, “The Immigrant Visa Process.”
 

3. Today’s immigrants don’t want to learn English.

Christine P. Gambino, Yesenia D. Acosta and Elizabeth M. Grieco, “English-Speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2012,” U.S. Census Bureau, June 2014.

Kathleen Conti, “Long Lines for Classes in English,” Boston Globe, July 31, 2014.

Leah Weinryb Grohsgal, “Chronicling America’s Historic German Newspapers and the Growth of the American Ethnic Press,” National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, July 2, 2014.

Tamar Jacoby, “Beyond Survival English,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2016.

Teaching Tolerance, Interview with David Reimers, professor emeritus of history at New York University, Fall 2010.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Naturalization Fact Sheet,” December 8, 2016.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Our Fees,” January 5, 2017.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “100 Civics Questions and Answers with MP3 Audio (English Version).”
 

4.Immigrants take good jobs from U.S. citizens.

American Immigration Council, “The Economic Blame Game: Immigration and Unemployment,” June 12, 2013.

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Size of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Workforce Stable After the Great Recession,” Pew Research Center, November 3, 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau, “Current Population Survey,” 2013.

Travis Putnam Hill, “In Texas, Undocumented Immigrants Have No Shortage of Work,” The Texas Tribune, December 16, 2016.
 

5. "The worst" people from other countries are coming to the United States and bringing crime and violence.

Teaching Tolerance, “What’s a Sanctuary City Anyway?” February 1, 2017.

Gene Demby, “Why Sanctuary Cities Are Safer,” NPR, January 29, 2017.

Tom K. Wong, "The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy," Center for American Progress, January 26, 2017.

Walter Ewing, Daniel E. Martínez and Rubén G. Rumbaut, “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States,” American Immigration Council, July 13, 2015.

Catherine E. Shoichet, “Immigrants and Crime: Crunching the Numbers,” CNN, July 8, 2015.
 

6. Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden the national economy.

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “Undocumented Immigrants’ State & Local Tax Contributions,” March 1, 2017.

Stephen Goss, Alice Wade, J. Patrick Skirvin, Michael Morris, K. Mark Bye and Danielle Huston, “Effects of Unauthorized Immigration on the Actuarial Status of the Social Security Trust Funds,” U.S. Social Security Administration, April 2013.

Vee Burke, “The 1996 Welfare Reform Law,” Congressional Research Service, July 1, 2003.

Maria Santana, “5 Immigration Myths Debunked,” CNN, November 20, 2014.
 

7. The United States is being overrun by immigrants like never before.

Campbell J. Gibson and Emily Lennon, “Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-1990,” U.S. Census Bureau, February 1999.

History.com, “U.S. Immigration Before 1965,” 2009.

Elizabeth M. Grieco, Yesenia D. Acosta, et al., “The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2010,” U.S. Census Bureau, May 2012.

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009,” Pew Research Center, September 20, 2016.

Elise Foley, Deportation Separated Thousands of U.S.-Born Children From Parents In 2013,” The Huffington Post, June 26, 2014.

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Unauthorized Immigrant Population Stable for Half a Decade,” Pew Research Center, September 21, 2016.
 

8. We can stop undocumented immigrants coming to the United States by building a wall along the border with Mexico.

Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009,” Pew Research Center, September 20, 2016.

Scott Bronstein, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin, “Border Wall Breached 9,000 times. Does it Even Work?” CNN, February 16, 2017.
 

9. Banning immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries will protect the United States from terrorists.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Fact Sheet: Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry to The United States,” January 29, 2017.

Uri Friedman, “Where America’s Terrorists Actually Come From,” The Atlantic, January 30, 2017.

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2016,” Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, January 26, 2017.

Alex Nowrasteh, “Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis,” CATO Institute, September 13, 2016.

The White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” March 6, 2017.
 

10. Refugees are not screened before entering the United States.


U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, “U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs,” January 20, 2017.


The White House, “Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry Into the United States,” November 20, 2015.