VIEWPOINT: Re-Examine Misconceptions of Immigrants

Immigration is the premise upon which this nation was founded. Yet it has been a topic of continuous contention throughout the 2016 presidential race. The rhetoric surrounding immigration during the election has been largely uninformed. As a result, we have lost the ability to separate facts from generalizations.

In light of this rhetoric, we must parse through misconceptions to better understand the role that immigrants play in our lives. For starters, many believe that all individuals migrate to the United States without documentation to escape crime and political instability, when in reality many immigrate to became productive members of American society.

Both immigrants with and without documentation become fundamental economic assets to our society when they arrive. According to the Economic Policy Institute, immigrant labor accounts for nearly 15 percent of total American output. According to Forbes, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants. This is the antithesis to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statement that immigrants from Mexico “are stealing our jobs. They’re rapists, they’re murderers.”

Then, there are those who say that they do not have anything against immigrants, as long as they come here legally. This perspective lacks the understanding of how there is currently not a legally manageable process for immigrants to go through when they are faced with the decision to leave their homes for the United States. Unless a person comes from a privileged background, which includes family ties or socio-economic status, the only path to immigration often takes the form of an “illegal” leap of faith.

Comprehensive immigration reform must take into account the fact that immigrants do not always have a choice over the factors that push them away from their countries of origin.

It does not start with those on Capitol Hill; it starts with any and every ordinary citizen. We need reform that transcends any piece of paper, through which we humbly seek to comprehend immigration not as just an issue, but as a phenomenon that has shaped human history.

To do so, one needs only to look at our campus. Georgetown is a welcome example of an inclusive environment in which immigrants can thrive. Here on the Hilltop, our community attempts to alleviate systemic difficulties and create an inclusive environment for all students through various resources in the Offices of Admissions, Student Financial Services and Campus Ministry.

Through an emphasis on confidentiality, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions invites all students across the country to apply to Georgetown regardless of citizenship, immigration status and financial need. For students without documentation enrolled at Georgetown, the launch of a website for students without documentation in April 2016 marked the university’s dedication to providing information regarding resources related to admission, financial aid, legal counsel and advising for students without documentation to ensure their support on Georgetown’s campus.

Student groups have also taken an active role in advocating for rights for immigrants and students without documentation, both at Georgetown and across the country. On Nov. 1, Hoyas for Immigrant Rights celebrated the first #IAmAnImmigrant Day of Action, a campaign started by bipartisan reform group FWD.us meant to highlight the countless contributions immigrants make to our nation. The iconic “I Am An Immigrant” T-shirts worn by participants were seen all over campus.

There is also the National Educators Coming Out Day on Nov. 12, when faculty and the student body have the opportunity to participate in a national campaign and demonstrate their support for undocumented students, pledging themselves as allies to fellow Hoyas.

Regardless of our political beliefs, outlook on immigration or favored candidate in this election, supporting our fellow students is a responsibility we must all embrace. As members of Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, we encourage all students to educate themselves, take time to think about our collective impact on the community and strive to create a welcoming environment for all Georgetown students. Listen to as many stories as possible, for our campus is filled with a multitude of perspectives and diversity, making Georgetown a home for so many, regardless of origin.

Rocío Mondragón Reyes is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and Adrienne Dittman is a sophomore in the College. They are the co-chairs of Hoyas for Immigrant Rights.

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6 Comments

  1. An Atlantic Monthly article that shows that most economists’ thinking that an increased influx of immigrants provides more jobs for Americans is FALSE and does harm jobs for US workers and the economy:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/does-immigration-harm-working-americans/384060/

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DEFDC1430F934A15750C0A9609C8B63

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/notes-on-immigration/
    The Conscience Of A Liberal–Paul Krugman

    “First, the benefits of immigration to the population already here are small.”
    ” But as Mr. Hanson explains in his paper, reasonable calculations suggest that we’re talking about very small numbers, perhaps as little as 0.1 percent of GDP.

    “My second negative point is that immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand…

    “Finally, the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear. ”

    Also, it is patently untrue that “immigrants” are the solution to low rate of start-ups:

    http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/01/immigration-reform-declining-start-rate.html

  2. The Liberal Case AGAINST Illegal Immigration:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/25/the-liberal-case-against-illegal-immigration.html

    This is the Progressive Case AGAINST Illegal Immigration:

    http://www.salon.com/2015/03/01/the_1_percents_immigration_con_how_big_business_adds_to_income_inequality_pits_workers_against_each_other/

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/notes-on-immigration/
    The Conscience Of A Liberal–Paul Krugman

    “First, the benefits of immigration to the population already here are small.
    ” But as Mr. Hanson explains in his paper, reasonable calculations suggest that we’re talking about very small numbers, perhaps as little as 0.1 percent of GDP.

    “My second negative point is that immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand…

    “Finally, the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear. ”

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DEFDC1430F934A15750C0A9609C8B63

    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/immigrants-different-audacity-hope/2014/11/17/id/607937/
    Report: Obama’s Book Says Illegals Can Hurt Americans

    http://beforeitsnews.com/opinion-conservative/2014/11/didnt-anyone-in-the-hispanic-media-read-obamas-book-2936030.html
    Didn’t anyone in the Hispanic media read Obama’s book? Or listen to when he speaks?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idvRtDDPl_4
    Barack Obama in his own words from “The Audacity of Hope”
    – Illegal Immigration hurts Black Americans and Blue Collared Workers

    Video Not Working? I wonder why?!? Here’s an Audio Link:
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/16/shock-flashback-obama-says-illegal-immigration-hurts-blue-collar-americans-strains-welfare-video/

  3. xenophobe.

    “We have a massive poverty population coming into our country virtually every day from Mexico,” whines the guy who vows to build “a beautiful wall” along the southern border.

    Oops. Beg your pardon. Misread our notes. Those actually were the words of Walter Mondale, Democratic senator, Vice President, presidential candidate, Minnesota progressive, speaking in the early 1970s.”

    And, so on…..

  4. http://www.newamericancivilrightsproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Executive-Amnesty-Letter-October-2014.pdf

    “Civil Rights Commissioner Warns Obama Executive Amnesty Will Hurt Black, STEM Workers”

    “I write to express my concern regarding reports that you plan on issuing an executive order that purports to grant legal status and work authorization to millions of illegal immigrants after the November elections. My concerns center around the effect such grant of legal status will have on two subsets of American workers: low-skilled workers: particularly low-skilled black workers, and high-skilled STEM workers.”

    Here’s the US Commission on Civil Rights’ (USCCR) case against illegal immigration:

    http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/IllegImmig_10-14-10_430pm.pdf

    The Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Wages and Employment Opportunities of Black Workers (all quoted directly)

    Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men (p3).

    Dr. Hanson‘s coauthored research suggested that a 10 percent immigrant-induced increase in the labor supply is associated with a 4 percent decrease in black wages, a 3.5 percent decrease in the black employment rate, and a 0.8 percent increase in the black incarceration rate (p5).

    These adjustments account for about 40 percent of the overall 18 percent decline in black employment rates and 10 of the 20 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate of black high school dropouts over the same period. Dr. Hanson noted that this influx reduced the employment rate of low- skill black men by eight percentage points (p6).

    In both his written and oral testimony, Professor Briggs stated that no issue has negatively ―affected the economic well-being of African Americans more than immigration. … Dr. Briggs viewed such losses as a denial of basic civil rights and economic opportunity (p7).

    Dr. Briggs stated that about 12 million illegal immigrants are currently in the U.S. labor market, … and that in his view, further legalization of such immigrants with family reunification would be economically devastating to low-wage workers of all races and black workers in particular(p8).

    Dr. Briggs also stated that the inflow of immigrants has resulted in low-skilled wages not rising over time. He viewed the reduction of both wages and jobs as a massive violation of the civil rights of all low-skilled workers, and of black workers in particular. He recommended, therefore, that the federal government
    should adhere to the findings of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX): ―People who should get in, do get in; people who should not get in, are kept out; and people who are judged deportable, are required to leave (p9).

    Dr. Briggs objected strongly to what he viewed as the use of public policy to drive down wages artificially. Dr. Jaynes agreed on that point, noting that this is indeed a civil rights issue, since such policy was being used to trample on the rights of all workers by driving down wages and avoiding employment rights. Vice Chair Thernstrom asked whether “artificial” was the correct word. Dr. Briggs responded that it was, since deliberate failure to enforce the law was responsible for the wage suppression, and such action was indefensible (p13).

  5. Dr. Necessitor says:

    “It’s our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us,” Donald Trump

    I voted for HRC (ugh!) but Trump is exactly right. Illegal immigrants take away OUR absolute right to determine OUR country’s future. This is the basis for much of the people’s anger.

  6. Trump did not say “They’re rapists” he said the Mexican government is sending “their rapists”.

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