Published on August 4, 2014
workers – tended to be those that prospered the most. 9 Myth: Immigrants come to the United States to get welfare. Fact: Many documented immigrants are prohibited from receiving most federal government benefits for five years after they arrive in the United States. They work and pay taxes, but do not receive benefits. Undocumented immigrants can receive emergency medical care and schooling for children but cannot receive welfare, food stamps or Social Security. 10 Myth: Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries. Fact: While many immigrants do send money back to their families in other countries, they contribute to the U.S. economy in other ways. Through consumer spending and entrepreneurship, immigrants contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to federal, state and local governments. 11 Myth: Immigrants don’t want to learn English or become citizens . Fact: 55% - 69% of immigrants who live in the United States already speak “good” to “excellent” English. 12 Many adult immigrants want to become proficient in English, but despite a significant increase in demand for English classes, funding has repeatedly been cut for English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. As a result, there are wait lists of one to three years for adult ESL classes in most cities. 13 In addition, in 2009, the U.S. government declined 1,046,539 applications for naturalization. 14 This shows not only the desire of immigrants to become citizens but also the challenges they face in achieving citizenship. Myth: Most immigrants are here illegally. Fact: Out of roughly 31 million foreign-born residents in the United States, 66% are living in the country with lawful immigration status. The remaining 34% are undocumented. 15 An estimated 40% of people who live in the United States without lawful status entered the United States legally but had overstayed their periods of authorized stay. 16 Myth : Immigrants are uneducated. Fact: Nearly one-third (30.6%) of all employed recent immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or more education in 2008. 17 More than 1.3 million (1 in 5) college-educated immigrants living in the United States are unemployed or are underemployed in positions such as taxi drivers, dishwashers and security guards. Many educated immigrants are unable to make full use of their academic and professional credentials, but must pursue expensive and lengthy recertification 9 Julia Preston, “Workforce Fueled by Highly Skilled Immigrants,” New York Times , April 15, 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/us/16skilled.html (accessed April 27, 2010). 10 “Separating Fact from Fiction: Refugees, Immigrants and Public Benefits,” Immigration Fact Check (Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Law Foundation, September 8, 2008), http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/RefugeesImmigrantsandPublicBenefits9-8-08.pdf (accessed April 26, 2010). 11 AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09021836 (American Immigration Lawyers Association, Feb. 18, 2009), http://aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=28041 (accessed April 27, 2010). 12 Laura E. Hill, Magnus Lofstrom, and Joseph M. Hayes. “Immigrant legalization: Assessing the Labor Market Effects,” report (Pub lic Policy Institute of California April 2010), http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/rb/RB_410LHRB.pdf (accessed April 26, 2010). 13 “Breaking Down the Problems: What’s Wrong with Our Immigration System?” (Immigration Policy Center, Oct. 2009), http://immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/Problem_Paper_FINAL_102109_0.pdf (accessed April 27, 2010). 14 2009 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics , (Department of Homeland Security, April 2010), 51, http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/natz_fr_2009.pdf (accessed April 22, 2010). 15 Michael Hoefer, Nancy Rytina, and Bryan C. Baker. “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United S tates: January 2009,” policy directorate (Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, January 2010), http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2009.pdf (accessed April 22, 2010). 16 Remarks by John Morton, Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement before the House Hom eland Security Committee, March 24, 2010. 17 “The Economic Blame Game: US Unemployment is Not Caused by Immigration,” (Immigration Policy Center, Nov. 19, 2009), http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/Economic_Blame_Game_111909.pdf (accessed April 27, 2010).