September 14th, 2011
6 Truths About The Immigration Debate

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was in San Antonio recently and as a part of her visit she held a town hall-type conversation sponsored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. The event was held in San Antonio west side’s iconic Teatro Guadalupe.

Immediately before and after the conversation the MALDEF folks distributed informative cards with the title “Five Facts About Immigration” –  a list compiled by MALDEF and it’s Truth in Immigration initiative.

What follows is that list, plus a sixth item which, I admit, I read in a piece written by Alex Nowrasteh, of the Huffington Post. Think these through, pack them in your memory chest if you’re so inclined; there are plenty of misconceptions and outright lies being spread about immigration, immigrants, and Latinos by default. Use the list as you would a shovel to clear the horse pucks from the middle of the road. There’s way to much if it laying around.

  1. The United States is an independent nation in part because of a reaction to a restrictive immigration policy. Among the grievances against King George set forth in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was a concern that the king had worked to prevent and discourage immigration to the colonies.
  2. Our status as one united nation also depends on having one immigration and immigration enforcement policy set by the federal government in Washington, DC. When the United States adopted its Constitution in 1787, the nation settled on being one united nation rather than a loose confederation of separate independent states. If each state, as Arizona attempted in SB 1070, could adopt its own immigration enforcement policy, we would cease to be one nation.
  3. Critical industries in the United States depend on undocumented immigrant workers. Agricultural farming has been an important part of our history and remains a crucial industry today. Several studies have estimated that well over half of all agricultural crop workers in the United States are undocumented. Moreover, there are no indications that American-born workers have an interest in adopting the lifestyle of migratory farm workers.
  4. There is no single “line” to wait to immigrate legally to the United States. Our current immigration system discriminates on the basis of national origin, or ancestry, requiring much longer waits for those from countries like Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines. For example, the adult son or daughter of a United States citizen who comes from most countries in the world currently waits four to five years to immigrate, while the adult son or daughter of a naturalized United States citizen from Mexico must wait almost 18 years to receive a legal immigrant visa.
  5. More than two million undocumented immigrants came to this country as minor children. Many of these immigrants went to school here and were raised as American kids. Our national values have never punished or blamed children for acts that they committed while under the direction of their parents.
  6. Immigration is not a zero sum game. There is not a finite number of jobs that are in peril because immigrants take them from Americans. That’s just not how our economy works. Work creates wealth, which in turn creates more work. Or as Alex Nowrasteh explains it:

Immigrants get to make more money; employers get a greater pool of talent from which to choose workers; consumers benefit from lower prices and more business entrepreneurship, innovation, and services; and many Americans see their wages increase.

So go forth and good luck – you’ve got the truth on your side.

[Photo By Lel4nd]

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