Myth vs. factThe real immigration issues

This immigration debate has really brought out the worst in an awful lot of people. In recent columns, letters to the editor, and other opinion pieces, I have seen so many carefully worded, politically correct versions of racial slurs against Mexicans that it makes my head spin. Another thing I have seen an awful lot of is misinformation. Perhaps one of these causes the other? Regardless, I’d like to try and do my part to remedy the situation by debunking some of the myths I’ve seen. Myth: All undocumented immigrants are Mexicans. Fact: Mexicans make up 57% of all undocumented immigrants. While this is a majority, it is still far from the idea that only Mexicans immigrate to the United States illegally. Myth: All undocumented immigrants do is collect welfare and take advantage of our system. Fact: 96% of undocumented males are part of the work force. This is much, much higher than the percentage of men who are either legal immigrants or United States citizens and collect welfare. Myth: All undocumented immigrants sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border. Building a wall would solve everything. Fact: Only about 40% of undocumented immigrants cross the southern border illegally. Most of these undocumented immigrants who are Mexicans take seasonal jobs, and then return to their families and homes in Mexico. Another 40% enter the country legally, and then overstay their visas. Most immigrants in this group fly into America or cross the U.S.-Canadian border. Myth: “America has never been picky about who lives here.” Fact: This is a real quote. It is from an opinion expressed in the Des Moines Register. It is absolutely untrue. Obviously, we were not very happy with the idea of people of Japanese descent living here during World War II. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to keep out all people of Chinese descent. During the “Red Scare,” many immigrants were deported without a hearing. Thousands were subjected to brutality and arrested for what may or may not have actually been their political beliefs. Some melting pot. Myth: Undocumented immigrants harm our economy. Fact: Immigrants create more jobs than they take. Numerous studies have shown this. By taking jobs that other workers refuse to perform, undocumented immigrant increase the opportunities of Native workers by boosting the industries that create jobs. That’s another thing that bothers me. The whole idea that “there are no jobs that Americans will not do. Our soldiers are out there making $8 an hour in terrible conditions in Iraq!” The notion that working in a meat-packing plant or picking fruit can be compared to serving one’s country in the military is ridiculous. First, our soldiers are given food and quarters, and their wage does not have to go to living expenses. Second, our system is one of conscription by hunger. A disproportionate number of our troops are from low-income families because they believe the military to be their only or best option. Third is the fact that many of our troops have essentially been tricked into joning the military with twisted truths or false promises from recruiters desperate to meet their quotas. Fourth is the fact that service to one’s country is a much more prestigious and honorable job than working in a meat-packing plant (despite what you’d think from looking at the way our government treats its veterans). All of this doesn’t even mention the human rights issue. The issue that no human being is illegal, no matter where he or she chooses to live. The issue that people should be able to flee poverty in order to try and make a better life for themselves and their children. The issue that people have “inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I support all people pursuing these things, regardless of whether some paper says they are allowed to or not. There’s one final thing I want to say. I want to say this to all of the immigrants, documented or undocumented, who read this. Thank you. Thank you for not giving us smallpox blankets, for not forcing us to leave our homes and migrate across the country, for not committing genocide against us, for not forcing us onto reservations. I honestly appreciate it. You’ve treated us a lot better than our white forefathers treated the native residents of this country when they immigrated here (without any papers, no less).