Photo Credit: Eli Burakian ’00, Dartmouth Office of Communications

Immigration Myths

  1. Most immigrants are here illegally. Of the more than 41 million foreign-born people living in the United States in 2013, about 30 million were naturalized citizens, permanent residents and legal residents. 

  2. There’s a way to enter the country legally for anyone who wants to get in line. There is no “line” for most very poor people with few skills to stand in and gain permanent U.S. residency. Generally, gaining permission to live and work in the United States is limited to people who are (1) highly trained in a skill that is in short supply here and offered a job by a U.S. employer, (2) escaping political persecution, (3) joining close family already here, or (4) winners of the green-card lottery.

  3. Immigrants take good jobs from Americans. According to the Immigration Policy Center, a nonpartisan group, research indicates there is little connection between immigrant labor and unemployment rates of native-born workers. Here in the United States, two trends—better education and an aging population—have resulted in a decrease in the number of Americans willing or available to take low-paying jobs.

  4. Undocumented immigrants bring crime.  Nationally, from 1990 to 2010, the violent crime rate declined almost 45 percent and the property crime rate fell 42 percent, even as the number of undocumented immigrants more than tripled.

  5. Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes but still get benefits. Undocumented immigrants pay income, sales and property).The U.S. Social Security Administration estimated that in 2013 undocumented immigrants—and their employers—paid $13 billion in payroll taxes alone for benefits they will never get. 

Source: Teaching Tolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center.