Why can’t they do it like our grandparents? Why don’t they want to learn English? You hear a lot of things about immigrants in the national conversation, and a lot of it is incomplete, factually inaccurate, or sometimes just downright mean. Here are answers to the questions we get most commonly. Check back often, as we’re always adding new answers.
“Build that wall!” A border wall will decrease the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Actually, no, it won’t. It is estimated that 27% to 40% of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. came over by plane and overstayed their visas.
Additionally, 66% of all undocumented immigrants have been here a decade or more. Net immigration from Mexico has been at zero for nearly a decade.
A border wall would be prohibitively expensive, somewhere in the range of $26 billion or more. This is money that could be spent building roads, fixing bridges, updating airports, and other infrastructure jobs that would benefit many of our citizens, to say nothing of the construction jobs it would create.
And the $26 billion is not all. A wall has to be maintained and manned, meaning an astronomical, ongoing expense for generations to come.
Adam of Adam Ruins Everything probably explains it best:
What’s wrong with kicking the criminals out? We just want to be safe.
Safety is important, and we should absolutely make our country as safe as it can be. In fact, no matter how much fear mongering you hear, our country is the safest it’s been in its history. Crime is at an all-time low, as reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics.
The fact is, though, that immigrants, and especially undocumented immigrants, have a lower rate of criminality than citizens. Why is that? Undocumented immigrants live in fear. One brush with police could mean the end of the life they’ve built, a life that often involves American-born spouses and children, a stable job, and ties to the community. So they make sure to stay out of trouble.
Immigration status is not a legal status. It’s a regulatory status, closer to whether or not you’ve got your driver’s license up to date than whether you’re a criminal. Simply being in the country undocumented is not a crime. In fact, our courts are highly vigilant on laws of “status.” Just like vagrancy laws make homelessness a “status” crime, so too would laws against being undocumented be problematic. Even the act of crossing the border without a proper border check is just a misdemeanor. (And, remember, anywhere from 27% to 40% and possibly more never did that, they just overstayed their visas). Being undocumented is not a crime.