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Debunking the Myths


Border Enforcement Is Not a Solution to the Problem

Critics believe that if there is stronger border enforcement, the problem of illegal immigration will be solved. The myth that we must secure our porous border before we can address the broken immigration system, and that the Administration and Congress are doing little to nothing to enforce it, is disproved by the facts: 

  • Since 2002, spending on immigration enforcement has steadily climbed and continues to climb in President Obama’s administration.  Spending for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) increased from fiscal year 2002, at almost $7.5 billion, to fiscal year 2010 over $17 billion.  Over the past three years alone, Congress increased funding for CBP by over 23% – from $8.2 billion to $10.1 billion – and added an extra $1 billion for border infrastructure and security activities as part of the 2009 stimulus bill.  Those investments more than doubled the number of border patrol agents, allowed for the completion of the Southwest border fence, and funded new border control technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, radars, and sensors.
  • Republican charges that the Obama administration is giving border security and immigration enforcement short shrift are false.  In conjunction with the fact that border security spending and personnel have also increased in recent years, the deportation numbers show that an aggressive “enforcement-only” immigration policy built during the Bush Administration is still the status quo of the Obama Administration.  As a result, partisan charges on border security and demands for even more immigration enforcement as a pretext for passing comprehensive immigration reform do not ring true in light of these numbers and this reality.
  • The best way to secure the border is comprehensive immigration reform.  The only way to truly secure the border is to enact comprehensive reform that complements professional and accountable border enforcement with measures that turn off the jobs magnet, ensure all workers are legal, and create a realistic mechanism for future legal immigration – all in a way that rings true with the best of America’s values. A strong majority of Americans support federal, comprehensive reform.

Rather Than Hurting American Workers, Immigrants Strengthen Our Economy.

Critics blame immigrants for high unemployment and the struggling economy. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

  • Pitting native-born American workers against immigrant workers creates a race to the bottom that is bad for all workers, and is not a real solution to get the economy back on track. What does the anti-immigrant lobby want? To send an unemployed auto worker from Detroit, someone who has traditionally enjoyed–and desperately wants–a good job with high wages and decent benefits, to California to pick strawberries for less pay, no benefits, and little worker safety? We need an economy that gives workers and families the chance to move up – not down — the economic ladder.
  • High numbers of immigrants have no relation to high unemployment. Recent immigrants constitute 7.3 percent of the population in New Jersey, but only 0.8 percent of the population in Maine. Yet unemployment rates in both states are almost identical: 8.3 percent in New Jersey and 8.1 percent in Maine.
  • Unemployed middle class native-born American workers are not interchangeable with immigrant workers. The claim that 16 million unemployed American workers would benefit from subtracting8million undocumented workers from thelabor force is false. Politicians who insist that higher wage but unemployed workers should take these lower wage jobs have to answer to the American worker who wants greater opportunity, not less.
  • Mass deportation of 12 million people is impractical, will cost billions of dollars and take years to accomplish, if ever. And it is certainly not the way to get the economy back on track. The vast majority of Americans recognize that mass deportation of 12 million people is just not going to happen. Rooting out millions of hardworking immigrants and families, most of who have lived and worked in America for years overlook the simple fact that these families already are home.
  • Immigration will strengthen the economy by increasing tax revenues.
  • Workers with legal status stimulate the economy by spending more. Past studies have shown that once workers obtain legal status, they invest in education and banking, have high rates of home ownership and provide long-term economic benefits to their communities.

Despite the Spin, Immigrants Are Less Likely to Commit Crimes Than U.S. Citizens of the Same Socioeconomic Status.

Critics have a tendency to label undocumented immigrants as criminals, and claim that the only way to protect our communities is to fence off the border and to deport the 12 million who are already here without immigration status. The facts don’t support their fearmongering: three decades of data have shown immigration is consistently associated with lower rates of crime and incarceration.

  • Disadvantaged urban neighborhoods are likely to have lower crime rates if they have large immigrant populations. One study concluded that, all other variables being equal, immigrants were 45% less likely to commit crimes than third-generation Americans.
  • Though the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has doubled since 1994, violent crime has fallen 34.2 percent, and property crime has fallen 26.4 percent.
  • Comprehensive immigration reform would make communities safer by allowing police to focus on violent criminals. Comprehensive immigration reform would reduce crime by bringing undocumented immigrants, who are now easily victimized by criminals, out of the shadows and requiring them to register and clear background checks on their way to becoming legal.