Emancipation and Migration: Part 3 – Myths Stuck in Lies and Fear

I few weeks ago I had the good fortune to visit family friends, while I was there the TV spent a few moments on FOX NEWS.  They boldly declared that they had NEW information of the REAL COST of immigration reform.  They went on the explain that if immigrant workers received documentation, many of them would be eligible for Earned Income Credit, and thus would cost the USA millions.   This was another example of utilizing  half-truths  to scare the masses into immigrant opposition.

It seems to me, most everyone who opposes comprehensive immigration reform has never spent significant time with immigrants, especially the undocumented.  Yet they who are most vocal in opposition to immigration reform get much of their rhetoric from certain media sources that are are obviously biased.

It is true that for every fact you find supporting the economic power and advantage of welcoming immigrants you can find an opposing fact – by an opposing group.  So I’m shy about tossing around statistics and numbers but I wanted to post the following info I found last week.   Dorris Meissner a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, served as commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000.  The following are excerpts of an article she wrote this for the Washington Post, Sunday, May 2, 2010.

5 Myths about immigration (2 today – more to come)

1. Immigrants take jobs from American workers.

Although immigrants account for 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, they make up about 15 percent of the workforce. They are overrepresented among workers largely because the rest of our population is aging: …  Low U.S. fertility rates and the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers mean that immigration is likely to be the only source of growth in what we call the “prime age” workforce — workers ages 25 to 55 — … as record numbers of retirees begin drawing Social Security checks, younger immigrant workers will be paying taxes…

Moreover, immigrants …. complement — rather than compete with — jobs held by native workers…. foreign-born workers who fill lower-paying jobs are typically first-hired/first-fired employees, …

It’s true that an influx of new workers pushes wages down, but immigration also stimulates growth by creating new consumers, entrepreneurs and investors. As a result of this growth, economists estimate that wages for the vast majority of American workers are slightly higher than they would be without immigration. U.S. workers without a high school degree experience wage declines as a result of competition from immigrants, but these losses are modest, at just over 1 percent. Economists also estimate that for each job an immigrant fills, an additional job is created.

2. Immigration is at an all-time high, and most new immigrants came illegally.

The historic high came .. in 1890, when immigrants made up 14.8 percent of our population. Today, about two-thirds of immigrants are here legally, … of the approximately 10.8 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, about 40 percent arrived legally but overstayed their visas.

(While) .. the unauthorized immigrant population includes more people from Mexico than from any other country, Mexicans are also the largest group of lawful immigrants. … apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have declined by more than 50 percent over the past four years, while increases in the size of the illegal population, which had been growing by about 500,000 a year for more than a decade, have stopped. This decline is largely due to the recession, but stepped-up border enforcement is playing a part.


To me a few important points from this:

A) the USA needs these workers and B) this wave of immigrants is not larger than others and neither is it continuing to grow unchecked.

I have to call them out by name.  Conservative talk shows hosts (Rush-Hannity-Beck, et al) and much of Fox News are trying to create a crisis, via fear mongering that is not TRUTHFUL, KIND, or GODLY, they use half-truths and coated with fear and prejudice.

Next post we’ll look at Doris’s other three myths, then consider WHY there is “illegal immigration”.

3 thoughts on “Emancipation and Migration: Part 3 – Myths Stuck in Lies and Fear”

  1. I would be interested in your reflection on several questions:

    What do you view are the blindspots within the varied sides of this debate. You definitely are addressing some of the “fear-driven” blindsponts. Are there others?

    This is one of those highly controversial issues that I can’t really figure out. I don’t see that there are real competing issues. I don’t see that anyone thinks our present system functions. What are the benefits we are getting out of not acting on issue? Is it just political??

    What I am most interested about is not the US-Mexico border (as if that were not a big enough issue)–but how we view ourselves as a Body of Christ around the world–at a time the peoples gather into the big cities of the world with little regard to the boundaries of nation-states. What is our relation to our own nation. Immigration into the US is just the spillover of a world on the move. Isn’t it our policy in relation to the fundamental drivers of “a world on the move” as important as the consequences (“illegal immigration into US”)? Can we conceive of comprehensive immigration reform without a conception of comprehensive policy towards a global population on the move???

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