Somos un Pueblo Unido compiled a list of immigrant facts and fiction. Here’s a sampling of what the organization put together.
Most immigrants come to this country legally.
True. There are over 33 million immigrants in the US. About 75 percent of the immigrants who are not naturalized citizens in this country are Legal Permanent Residents and have a visa. Of the 25 percent that are undocumented, about 40 percent entered the country legally and overstayed their temporary visas. (US Census and DHS yearbook)
Immigrants don’t pay taxes.
False. All immigrants contribute to this country’s tax base. They pay income, property, sales and other taxes. Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants also pay income taxes, as evidenced by the SSA’s “earnings suspense file” (taxes that couldn’t be matched to workers’ names and Social Security numbers). This pot increased by $20 billion in the 1990’s. (Cato Institute, Urban Institute, SSA)
It is illegal for undocumented immigrants to work in this country.
False. Although undocumented immigrants are not legally authorized to live here, they are not violating any law by working in this country. Since 1986, it has been illegal for employers to hire them.
Native-born Hispanics in New Mexico by and large support immigration and immigrants’ rights.
True. Although there has been no major polling of Hispanics’ views regarding recent Latino immigrants, New Mexico, with a high Hispanic population of 43.6 percent, has historically boasted the most progressive policies in the country for undocumented immigrants. Hispanic politicians and policy-makers at the local and state level have generally spearheaded or voted in favor of policies aiming to protect and benefit immigrants—with little to no opposition from their constituents.
International migration is primarily caused by the lack of economic development in migrants’ home countries and because of wage disparities.
False. International migrants do not originate in the world’s poorest nations, but in those that are developing and growing. The initiation of economic development in migrants’ home countries and the structural changes it triggers, causes increased migration to occur. Moreover, although wage disparities do constitute one factor in migrants’ decision to emigrate, households generally use international migration as a tool to overcome failed, missing or nascent markets for insurance, capital, and credit at home. (Douglas S. Massey, 2002, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration)
See parent story, What’s a Little Historical Amnesia Between Neighbors?