If you are not an immigrant (or know someone who is), you may be susceptible to believing some of the biggest falsehoods regarding immigration, many of which regard the economy and the country’s cultural landscape. This can be a common problem… especially when Election Day rolls around. Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the most prevalent myths concerning immigrants today. We hope you can walk away with a better understanding of immigration as a whole, and those affected by it.
Myth: Immigrants hurt the US economy.
Truth: Immigrants to the US pay more into the system than what they receive back.
It’s a common (but incorrect) belief that immigrants to the US are harming the country’s economy. However, even undocumented immigrants are actually helping the economy—on a larger scale than you might expect. Each year, undocumented immigrants pay about $15 billion in Social Security taxes… and as a whole, they only receive a fraction of that, about $1 billion. This is because they aren’t equipped to receive the benefits of the Social Security system.
Myth: The US education system is negatively impacted by immigrants.
Truth: Many immigrants who come to the US for better jobs are ready to work.
Many people claim that the cost of educating immigrants and preparing them for the workforce is too costly—however, this isn’t quite the case. 70 percent of immigrants come to this country at “prime working age,” so they’re ready to enter the workforce and don’t necessarily need additional education, training or resources.
Foreign born students also benefit higher education in the US. They enter graduate schools in the hopes of furthering their education, benefiting these institutions greatly and comprising a sizeable percentage of graduate students.
Myth: Immigrants take “American” jobs.
Truth: More and more immigrants are starting their own businesses.
If you’ve ever wondered whether immigrants were really taking homegrown jobs, wonder no more. Many immigrants to the US are actually starting their own businesses—in fact, in 2011, 28 percent of small businesses were started by immigrants… even though this group only made up 12.9 percent of the US population as a whole. Immigrants are also doubly likely to start their own businesses in the US when compared with native born residents.
These figures are certainly promising… but it’s important to remember that an “American” job is just that—a job performed by a resident or citizen of the country. Immigrants have proven—time and time again—that they are just as capable and willing to work the jobs and careers the US needs. Considering their role in these jobs any less legitimate than that of native born residents is an unfair belief.
Myth: Immigrants are not interested in learning English.
Truth: The majority of immigrants learn English upon arrival and want to benefit the country.
Over 75 percent of immigrants will learn English in their first ten years in the country. While this number may be surprisingly high to you, it has the potential to be even greater considering the constant addition of English classes and resources for foreign born residents.
Remember that speaking languages other than English is not a sign of an unwillingness to add to the culture and community of the US. Many immigrants know (or are hoping to learn) the language and customs of the US, but still want to retain elements of their native culture.
It’s easy to fall victim to falsehoods regarding immigration, but you don’t have to remain in the dark!