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Review of Articles on Immigration

Updated on November 29, 2014

Five Myths About Immigration

The article “Five Myths About Immigration” is the author’s attempt to debunk five common misconceptions about immigration. The article seeks to educate the reader about taking immigration myths at face value. By opening minds through education, individuals may come to realize the benefits of immigration

Cole attempts to debunk five common opinions about immigration and its implications. The first myth is “America is being overrun with immigrants”. The author refutes this thought by maintaining that the immigrant population is approximately 8% today compared with the much higher percentage between the years of 1870 and 1920. The second myth is “Immigrants take jobs from US citizens”. Cole responds that immigrants create more jobs than they fill. Immigrants are often highly productive in their own businesses and hire other immigrants along with US citizens. This is demonstrated through statistics found on the 1994 A.C.L.U. Immigration Rights Project Report. Thirdly, “Immigrants are a drain on society’s resources”. The author cites a 1994 Urban Institute report that shows immigrants pay more money in taxes than they use in services. The fourth claim is “Aliens refuse to assimilate and are depriving us of our cultural and political stability”. Cole maintains that American culture is based upon change and nothing stays the same over time. He also points out that even if this myth were true, it is not grounds to limit immigration. The final claim is that “Non-citizen immigrants are not entitled to constitutional rights”. The author claims “the Constitution literally extends the fundamental protections in the Bill of Rights” to all people”. (Cole, 1994) He also points out that, in time, we will all be held accountable for how well or how poorly we treated others.

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“America is being overrun with immigrants” is not a valid premise. Due to the fact that the United States was founded on the principle of immigration, immigrants are the driving force behind the huge melting pot that is the United States. Our ancestors were all immigrants at one time or another. Some are just more recent than others. The percentage of immigrants is likely lower than in the past. This leads to the conclusion that immigration has the potential to work wonders for the United States, but certain limitations are necessary in order to insure control. Certain limitations should be in place.

“Immigrants take jobs from US citizens” is often an excuse used by individuals who do not support immigration. These same individuals place the blame for suppressed wages on immigration control. According to The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Facts, Figures and Statistics on Illegal Immigration, “illegal immigration distorts the law of supply and demand in a capitalistic society” and “It wasn't that long ago that being a dry-waller, brick-layer, house framer, painter, roofer, carpet layer, plumber, or electrician was a decently compensated, middle class trade. Now it is increasingly becoming the work for illegal aliens at far less than the free market rate”. Immigrants often come to the United States to work these low-paying and low-skilled jobs because the conditions of these undesirable US jobs are more favorable that conditions for most jobs in their native country. Citizens blame these individuals for daring to dream of a better life for themselves and their families. These low-paying and low-skilled jobs are often found by US citizens to be undesirable and someone has to do this type of work in order for the economy to function effectively.

“Immigrants are a drain on society’s resources” is a valid point in many cases. To support the notion that immigration warrants control, immigrants should pay taxes if they are going to live in this country and take advantage of public services and resources. Otherwise, it is not fair for the citizens who pay taxes to help support these individuals. According to The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: A New Analysis, “immigrants are poorer, pay less tax, and are more likely to receive public benefits than natives. It follows that federal government finances are adversely impacted by immi­grants—and this negative will increase as the foreign-born share of the population increases”. (Rubenstein, 2007) Immigration should in no way create hardship for US citizens. If an individual is to live in a country, they should contribute to its greater good.

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Sometimes it is seems to be true that is “Aliens refuse to assimilate and are depriving us of our cultural and political stability”. Control is needed for purposes of safety and the tragic events of September 11th 2001 are exemplary of that. Control is also needed to maintain the rights of existing citizens. Immigration should in no way create hardship for US citizens. Existing citizens should have priority of rights to US resources. Everyone who lives and or works in the United States should be required to pay taxes and to speak English. It is unfair for citizens to have to accommodate immigrants who do not speak English, however citizens should be sympathetic and allow a reasonable amount of time since learning a new language can be time-consuming and difficult for some. All immigration should be legal for purposes of safety, statistical information and for proper record-keeping.

“Non-citizen immigrants are not entitled to constitutional rights” should speak for itself. It would compromise the integrity of the principles our country was built upon to refuse any human being the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Our constitution does not limit this to certain individuals.

The Worker Next Door

In the article “The Worker Next Door”, Chiswick maintains that immigration is essential to the flexibility of the American economy because it allows for flexibility to keep goods and services at an ideal price for all Americans. He states, “It is often said that the American economy needs low-skilled foreign workers to do the jobs that American workers will not do”. (Chiswick, 2006)

Chiswick questions who would perform low-skill and low-pay jobs if immigrants were not around since. Since Americans demand higher pay, the prices of good and services would go up for every American. Criswick notes that the increase in immigration has also created stagnation in wages for such workers. This means wages do not increase due to job competition among immigrants. He argues that is immigration rates fall, wages would increase and the American economy would lose flexibility. All American families would suffer from price increases.

Flexibility in the economy does benefit all Americans and anything that reduces that flexibility will have a negative effect on everyone. It is often said that there are plenty of jobs, but many of them are unfilled because most Americans are not willing to accept something below a certain standard. Given the choice between a low-skilled and low-paying job or waiting a while to find a better one, most Americans would remain unemployed until they find something comparable to their skill-level. If someone is used to being paid $12.00-14.00 an hour, normally they find a job that pays half of that to be a waste of the time spent working it. Supply and demand is related to everything in life. The same goes for immigrant workers. If we were to lose them, the supply is less and demand increases. When demand increases, pay increases and when pay increases, the cost of everything is higher for everyone.

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Angels in America

In the article “Angels in America”, Tierney maintains that modern immigrants are no different than immigrants in the past. This country was built upon immigration and almost all Americans can trace their roots back to immigrants, so it is absurd that society is so hard on individuals who are willing to be good citizens.

The author points out that most immigrants are not doing anything wrong. They are trying to be good citizens and society repays them by treating them poorly. The article uses the story of a man names Angel Epinoza who has a family and works a low-payng job as a dishwasher. Espinoza was denied citizenship due to violation of a order to stay out of the country when he was caught on the border years ago. The man is simply trying to live a life with his family and realize the American dream. The author also questions why society is so much harder on today’s immigrants than in previous years. Immigrants in the past were welcome and the number coming to the United States was much greater than it s today.

It is important for the author to remember that all immigrants living in the United States should be doing so legally. The government owes this protective control to its citizens. When it is unknown who is in the country, how can safety be protected and maintained? Illegal immigrants are detrimental to society because they create risk to citizens and contribute to the government’s inability to control resources and maintain records. Records are important for statistical information and for safety purposes. A lack of records makes it quite difficult to find someone whose presence may be problematic. Espinoza did violate a government order and that is why he is in his current predicament, however, it seems that since he has been upstanding since that point, that the government is being a little harsh on him. He has a family who is here legally and it seems unjust that one day he may not come home to them because he was deported.

It seems that most Americans take for granted the fact that they are descended from immigrants. Many feel that it was more acceptable in previous times because the country was not as well established. Today, because our country is already well-established, many feel that immigrants cramp their lifestyle. Many people are resentful of immigrants’ use of American resources and taking of jobs, yet these same resentful individuals are not seen working the low-skill and low-paying jobs immigrants are more than willing to work. At the end of the day, Americans should reflect on their lives and remember that they would not be where they are if no one had given them a chance for betterment. Who is anyone to deny another person the opportunity for a better life?

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References

Cole, David. “Five Myths About Immigration”. The Nation. October 17, 1994. Rpt. in Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan and Hugo Bedau. 8th Edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.

Criswick, Barry R. “The Worker Next Door”. New York Times. June 2006. Rpt. in Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan and Hugo Bedau. 8th Edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.

The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Facts, Figures and Statistics on Illegal Immigration. Retrieved October 16, 2008 at http://www.usillegalaliens.com/impacts_of_illegal_immigration_jobs.html.

Rubenstein, Edwin S. The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: A New Analysis. The Social Contract. Volume XVIII, Number 2, Winter 2007-2008.

Tierney, John. “Angels in America”. New York Times. April 2006. Rpt. in Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan and Hugo Bedau. 8th Edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.

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      Howard Schneider 2 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub and analysis of that book, AtlanticHorizons. Immigration has always made us stronger. New immigrants are willing to do jobs that no Americans want to do. it also certainly adds flexibility to our economy as well as diversity.

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