Myths about Immigrants




“Illegals are coming in
and it’s a crime wave.”
Donald Trump

Is it true? Are undocumented immigrants bringing a “crime wave”? When CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned Trump regarding Mexicans, including “rapists,” he doubled down: “I don’t think it’s a small percentage. It’s a lot.”

This claim is false.

Indeed, the reverse is true: Undocumented workers make their communities safer by committing fewer crimes than U.S. citizens.

Sociologist Rubén Rumbaut’s 2000 study found the incarceration rate for young male U.S. citizens was 3.5 percent; the rate for immigrant young men was 0.7 percent. The 2015 figures for males, reported by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, is 3.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. However, even the far better figure for migrants includes men held only for immigration offenses.

The conservative Americas Majority Foundation documented in 2008 that the ten states with the greatest increases in immigration had the lowest crime rates—including the lowest rates for violent crimes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated there is “a very long line of research demonstrating that immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to commit crimes or to be incarcerated.”

Sociologist Robert Sampson of Harvard University explains that migration requires much planning. This is usually “driven by economic motivations. People want a better life. They’re seeking to get ahead. And those are the very factors that tend to be associated with lower crime.”


Immigrants Strengthen Our Country

False claims based on prejudice against immigrants are nothing new. For more than a century, foreigners coming to this country have been scapegoated for many reasons: Undocumented immigrants taking jobs from U.S. citizens; not paying their fair share of taxes; and being a financial burden to their communities.

These claims are also false.

Forbes reports that undocumented workers “enlarge the economic pie by at least $36 billion a year.” Also, low-skilled workers usually complement, rather than displace, U.S. workers.

Moreover, Forbes also reports immigrants boost the wages of U.S. born workers: “The net effect is a 1.8 percent rise.” This means that, of the $75,200 median household income of U.S. born workers in 2011, immigrants account for approximately $1350.

Immigrant labor also lowers the cost of food and other products.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce states, “Removing 8 million undocumented workers from the economy also means removing 8 million consumers…. The U.S. economy would contract and the total number of jobs would decrease.”

In addition to federal taxes, undocumented workers paid approximately $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010, yet they do not qualify for many benefits their taxes fund. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, disability income and housing subsidies.

A study by the University of Arizona found immigrants use only 58 percent of the state resources they pay in taxes. A Florida International University study found that each immigrant pays nearly $1500 more in taxes than they receive in state benefits.

Perhaps most shocking, undocumented workers contributed the vast majority of Social Security’s ‘Earnings Suspense File.’ Since 1990, the total contributions for these unclaimed benefits exceeds $1 trillion.

Undocumented workers should be appreciated for all they contribute to our economy. Legal work permits should be issued. Instead, they are denigrated.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry proclaims Donald Trump is “wrongly demonizing Mexican-Americans for political sport. It is wrong to paint with a broad brush Hispanic men and women in this country who have fought and died for freedom from the Alamo to Afghanistan. He scapegoats Hispanics to appeal to our worst instincts.”

According to a Fox News poll, 68 percent of Republican primary voters believe Trump is “basically right” on immigration.

Trump’s claims are false. Trump’s tone is hate-filled. Trump’s message is disgraceful.

Instead of displacing anger on immigrants, we must address the true source of Americans’ economic pain: Corporations’ domination of our political system, filling their coffers with trillions through tax advantages—and enabling the pillaging of workers’ wages.

©2015 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.

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