IMMIGRATION & THE ECONOMY FACTS
Our country has always depended on the innovation, hard work, and optimism of immigrants from around the globe. Our broken immigration system has threatened that legacy by creating barriers to employment and entrepreneurship.
A functioning system will promote the American Dream, facilitating opportunities for both new and resident immigrants to fully participate in our economy.
The resources on this page explore various ways in which our current system inhibits entrepreneurship and economic growth, and they offer alternatives that ensure our immigration system becomes a vehicle for prosperity and competitiveness.
10 MYTHS ABOUT IMMIGRATION
1. Undocumented Immigrants are thugs and criminals.
Between 1990 and 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants rose from 3.5 million to 11.2 million, but figures from the FBI show violent crime declined by 48 percent in that period. This includes aggravated assault, rape, robbery, and murder. The property crime rate also declined 41 percent, according to a report by the American Immigration Council. Undocumented immigrants did not bring a crime wave.
Several studies have found no link between immigration and crime, and some have found lower crime rates among immigrants. In fact, the Cato Institute analyzed Texas data for 2015 and found that the rate of crime among undocumented immigrants was generally lower than among native-born Americans.
2. Undocumented Immigrants suck up welfare.
A recent study by the Center for Immigration Studies claimed undocumented immigrants use welfare programs at higher rates than the native-born population. But an analysis by the Cato Institute found the CIS study omitted key information and compared “apples to elephants.” Among the many flaws: CIS excluded Social Security and Medicare. A previous analysis showed the contributions by immigrants vastly outweigh their net-consumption of means-tested welfare, Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh wrote.
3. Undocumented Immigrants don’t pay taxes
In a recent report titled Undocumented Immigrants’ State & Local Tax Contributions, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) explores in-depth tax contributions of undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants paid $11.8 billion in state and local taxes 2012. This ranged from roughly $3.2 million in Montana (home to only 6,000 undocumented immigrants) to $3.2 billion in California (with an undocumented population numbering 3.1 million).
The average effective state and local tax rate of undocumented immigrants in 2012 was 8 percent (compared to 5.4 percent for the top 1 percent of all taxpayers). Giving legal status to 11.4 million undocumented immigrants would increase their state and local tax contributions by $2.2 billion per year.
4. Immigrants take American jobs.
Agriculture has long sought migrant laborers because no Americans apply. New Mexican chile growers recently put out a plea for an expanded guest worker program, saying they face a labor shortage and that young Americans don’t want to do the work. The Associated General Contractors of America say construction firms can’t find workers, and that few American students see this as a career path. Among their solutions: comprehensive immigration reform to increase the number of migrant workers.
Sources: http://www.startribune.com/new-mexico-green-chile-growers-want-newguest-worker-program/321779361/ ; https://www.agc.org/news/2015/09/10/nationwide-survey-finds-86-percent-contractors-have-difficulty-filling-key-craft-and
5. Immigrants hurt the economy.
The Congressional Budget Office said in 2007 that “Over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants — both legal and unauthorized — exceed the cost of the services they use.” The White House issued a paper in 2013 showing immigration reform would lead to greater economic growth.
Sources: https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=481670 ; https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/report.pdf
The Trump Administration’s recent actions to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy.
Reporting by the Center for American Progress has found that nearly 91% of DACA recipients (Wong et al., 2017) are currently employed across the country, contributing billions of dollars to our communities, our economy, and in tax revenue.
Removing DACA recipients from the workforce will cost $460.3 billion in GDP loss over a decade (Svajlenka, Jawetz and Bautista-Chavez, 2017).
It will cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs, and would cut contributions to Medicare and Social Security by $39.3 billion over a decade (Magaña-Salgado, 2016; Magaña-Salgado and Wong, 2017).
Moreover, DACA recipients have been important drivers of economic growth in their communities.
Nearly 6% of DACA recipients have launched businesses, many employing American citizens (Wong et al., 2017).
Further, almost 55% of DACA recipients purchased a vehicle, and more than one in ten have purchased their first home (Brannon and Albright, 2017).
6. A better wall will stop illegal immigration.
The United States spent more than $130 billion on border surveillance and security in the past two decades. But a 2011 study by the National Research Council says the dramatic reduction in the number of illegal border crossings in recent years has more to do with the recession, which chilled demand for migrant labor. What’s more, about 40 percent of illegal immigrants in the country entered legally and overstayed their visas.
Illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades. In 2017, border crossing apprehensions were at their lowest point since 1971.
Source: The New York Times, 1/11/19
7. Immigrants don’t share our values.
The vast majority of immigrants come here to work. Their labor is in demand because they arrive with a strong work ethic. Sixty-eight percent are Christian, according to Pew Research Center. But increasing numbers report no religious affiliation, which mirrors trends in the United States. They value family, home ownership and have strong community ties. In 2012, 62 percent of the undocumented population had been in the United States a decade or more.
Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/key-datapoints/immigration/ ; http://www.pewresearch.org/facttank/2015/05/19/growing-share-of-u-s-immigrants-have-no-religiousaffiliation/
8. Immigrants don’t assimilate or learn English.
An analysis of Census Bureau data shows that the adult-born children of immigrants earn more than their parents, attain higher levels of education and have a better standards of living. They speak English and identify as “typical American,” according to Pew. That’s how it’s been since those European immigrants arrived on the Mayflower.
9. Mexico is reclaiming the Southwest through illegal immigration.
In 2014, there were more non-Mexicans apprehended trying to cross the border illegally than Mexicans, according to Pew. There have been steady increases in apprehensions of undocumented border-crossers from Central America, where violence, poverty and corruption are widespread. But the real surprise is that immigrants from China and India have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming into the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many arrive with student or work visas.
Sources: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/15/what-we-knowabout-illegal-immigration-from-mexico/ ; http://www.pennlive.com/nationworld/2015/08/immigrants_from_india_china_ou.html
10. We have to end birthright citizenship or they’ll take over.
There were about 295,000 babies born to undocumented mothers in the United States in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center. Those babies are citizens at birth under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These tiny Americans made up a tiny 8 percent of the total births in this country. Their births represent a decline from the peak year of 2007, when 370,000 babies of undocumented mothers claimed birthright citizenship.