The 18.9 million immigrant women and girls in the United States in 2008 present a portrait of demographic diversity on many fronts. An analysis of Census Bureau data reveals that immigrant women are not easily categorized or stereotyped—and that many common myths about immigrants are shattered when we look carefully at the demographic diversity of these women.
Violent Crimes Are Down in the State’s Three Largest Cities
Many supporters of Arizona’s harsh new anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, continue to insist that the law is, in part, a crime-fighting measure. However, the latest crime statistics released by the FBI confirm what previous data had already indicated: that Arizona is in the midst of a years-long decline in violent crime that pre-dates SB 1070, despite the growing number of unauthorized immigrants in the state during those same years. Specifically, preliminary data released by the FBI on May 24, when compared to data from previous years, reveals that the numbers of violent crimes as a whole, and murders in particular, have been trending downwards for years in Arizona’s three largest cities: Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa. Arizona’s falling crime rates, together with a century’s worth of evidence indicating that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes than the native-born, cast serious doubt on the claims of some SB 1070 supporters that the law is in any way a useful crime-fighting tool.
Ending Birthright Citizenship Would Be Unconstitutional, Impractical, Expensive, Complicated and Would Not Stop Illegal Immigration
Anti-immigrant groups and legislators have persisted in their attempts to restrict or repeal birthright citizenship in State Houses and the U.S. Congress. Several bills have been introduced that would deny U.S. citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. illegally or on temporary visas. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution - the cornerstone of American civil rights - affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Following the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment restated the longstanding principle of birthright citizenship, which had been temporarily erased by the Supreme Court's "Dred Scott" decision which denied birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of slaves. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld birthright citizenship over the years. The following fact sheet is adapted from the Immigration Policy Center’s Made in America: Myths and Facts About Birthright Citizenship.
High levels of unemployment have led some to propagate the myth that every immigrant added to the U.S. labor force amounts to a job lost by a native-born worker, or that every job loss for a native-born worker is evidence that there is need for one less immigrant worker. In fact, this has been the rationale behind any number of harsh legislative proposals targeting immigrants. These kinds of proposals may be appealing politically, but they reflect dangerously simplistic assumptions about labor-force dynamics. Moreover, such proposals distract from the far more important goal of creating economic policies that generate growth and create jobs for workers across the U.S. labor market. As data from the 2009 Current Population Survey illustrates, most immigrant and native-born workers are not competing with each other in today’s tight job markets.
Immigration Enforcement without Immigration Reform Doesn’t Work
This week, the Senate will consider amendments to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that would add thousands of additional personnel along the border (including the National Guard), as well as provide millions of dollars for detention beds, technology, and resources. Yesterday, bowing to pressure, President Obama announced that he would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and request $500 million for additional resources. All of this attention on resources for the border ignores the fact that border enforcement alone is not going to resolve the underlying problems with our broken immigration system.
UPDATED 05/26/10 - Arizona’s controversial new immigration law (SB 1070) is the latest in a long line of efforts to regulate immigration at the state level. While the Grand Canyon State’s foray into immigration law is one of the most extreme and punitive, other states have also attempted to enforce federal law through state-specific measures and sanctions. Oklahoma and Georgia have passed measures, with mixed constitutional results, aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration through state enforcement. Legislators in 45 states introduced 1,180 bills and resolutions[i] in the first quarter of 2010 alone, compared to 570 in all of 2006. Not all state legislation relating to immigration is punitive—much of it falls within traditional state jurisdiction, such as legislation that attempts to improve high school graduation rates among immigrants or funds. The leap into federal enforcement, however, represents a disturbing trend fueled by the lack of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.
On April 29, 2010, Democratic Senators Schumer, Reid, Menendez, Feinstein, and Leahy unveiled a proposed outline for a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The “conceptual framework” offers a broad platform for re-inventing our immigration system and attempts to find a middle ground that may appeal to more conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. Consequently, details are noticeably lacking in many areas of the proposal. Nonetheless, the underlying concept reflects a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform which attempts to balance traditional enforcement priorities with the creation of legal means for entering and working in the United States. Read more...
Supporters of Arizona’s harsh new immigration law claim that it is, in part, a crime-fighting measure. For instance, the bill’s author, Republican State Senator Russell Pearce of Mesa, confidently predicts that the law—which requires police to investigate the immigration status of anyone who appears to be unauthorized—will result in “less crime” and “safer neighborhoods.” However, Sen. Pearce overlooks two salient points: crime rates have already been falling in Arizona for years despite the presence of unauthorized immigrants, and a century’s worth of research has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. While much has been made about kidnappings in Arizona, law-enforcement officials indicate that most of these involve drug smugglers and human smugglers, as well as smuggled immigrants themselves—not the general population of the state. Combating crime related to human smuggling requires more trust between immigrants and the police, not less. Yet the undermining of trust between police and the community is precisely what Arizona’s new law accomplishes. In the final analysis, immigration policy is not an effective means of addressing crime because the vast majority of immigrants are not criminals.
Many people believe that only illegal immigrants are deported. However, thousands of long-term legal immigrants are deported each year. While some are deported for committing serious crimes, many more are deported for committing minor, nonviolent crimes, and judges have no discretion to allow them to stay in the U.S.—even if they have U.S. citizen children.