Five Illegal Immigration Myths Debunked
We are continuing to update our original list of ten myths about undocumented immigrants, but there are many more and we address five additional myths below. In many cases they developed from outright lies and conspiracy theories, and far too often they are grounded in racism and xenophobia.
Myth 1: Thousands [millions if you ask former President Donald Trump] of undocumented immigrants are voting illegally in our elections.
Reality: Voter fraud is exceedingly rare and there is no evidence that more than a handful of undocumented immigrants even try to vote in US elections. However, It's become a favorite right-wing conspiracy theory.
President Trump repeated this lie fairly often during his term of office, most recently at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit while trying to explain why he lost the popular vote in California in 2016.
Trump quoted by the Washington Post: “Those numbers in California and numerous other states, they’re rigged. They’ve got people voting that shouldn’t be voting. They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times. It’s like a circle. They come back, they put a new hat on. They come back, they put a new shirt on. And in many cases, they don’t even do that. You know what’s going on. It’s a rigged deal.”
Former White House policy adviser, Stephen Miller, made similar claims about large numbers of undocumented immigrants voting. And Alex Jones of the conspiracy theory website "InfoWars" claimed three million illegals voted in 2016. Lou Dobbs of Fox News warned of illegals voting in the 2018 midterm elections.
There is now a mountain of research on voting fraud and fact-checkers like Politifact have worked overtime on the issue. It's a myth, one the President of the United States kept alive to explain his popular vote loss in 2016 and to provide a basis for voter suppression efforts in some conservative states.
Politifact: "Allegations of undue influence over American elections have become fairly commonplace in the Trump era. Trump himself has repeatedly claimed the existence of massive voter fraud and election rigging, which we’ve debunked again and again and again and again and again and again and again."
"There’s zero evidence of even dozens, let alone millions, of non citizens voting in this or any other election," said according to David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, a non-profit focused on election integrity."
Ellen Weintraub, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, addressed Trump's allegations of voter fraud generally several years ago.
Politico: “People have studied this. Academics have studied this. Lawyers have studied this. The government has studied this. Democrats have studied this. Republicans have studied this,” she continued. “And no one can find any evidence of rampant voter fraud either historically or particularly in the 2016 elections.”
And, how about President Trump's infamous Voter Fraud Commission? Trump claimed he shut it down because the states wouldn't cooperate, but that is a lie. No one on the panel could find evidence of voter fraud by undocumented immigrants or anyone else.
Illuminate: "Maine secretary of state, Matt Dunlap, released a report yesterday detailing his review of 1800 files collected by President Trump's voter fraud panel known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. His report, which he published in the form of a letter, is here. Dunlap states in the letter that there is simply no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election."
New York Times: "In fact, no state has uncovered significant evidence to support the president’s claim, and election officials, including many Republicans, have strongly rejected it."
Myth 2: Muslim refugees from nations like Syria that were included in President Trump's 2017 travel ban pose a threat to Americans.
Reality: There is not a shred of evidence to support it. You should be far more concerned about being attacked by your fellow US citizens.
Washington Post: "These [Trump's] policies are based on the mistaken view that Muslim Americans are a significant threat to our country. Yet the evidence shows that any threat they pose is minuscule. The annual likelihood of being killed in a terrorist attack by a [any] foreigner since 1975 is just 1 in 3.6 million. No one from the travel ban countries, nor any Muslim refugee, has killed anyone in a terrorist attack in the United States in more than 40 years."
Myth 3: America faces an invasion and is overrun by both legal and illegal immigrants, more than ever before.
Reality: America has always had a significant immigrant population, and millions of immigrants poured into the United States after the Civil War. By 1890, 14.8% of the nation's population had come from other countries. Immigration decreased after the Second World War but increased again late in the century and today, immigrants, legal and otherwise, account for 13.6% of the U.S. population, still below the highs recorded in the late nineteenth century. And, for the sake of comparison, our immigrant population is substantially less than Canada where 20.6% of the population was born elsewhere.
It's quite likely that America's immigrant population will continue to increase because of the need to replace retiring baby-boomers in the economy. As we have written before, America is going to need more immigrants, not less, in the years to come.
Professor Jack Goldstone, Reason: "If we want our economy to grow, what America needs more than anything is workers. Domestic fertility rates are plummeting even as the boomers are rushing into retirement. The U.S. birth rate hit an all-time low in 2017: 1.7 children per woman, well below the "replacement rate" of 2.1. At the same time, the number of immigrants entering the country has slowed considerably, thanks in part to the Great Recession of 2007–09. Not only do these trends put enormous pressure on the country's entitlement system, they are already causing a drag on the economy. And this problem will only get more serious in the decades to come. Unless the U.S. finds a way to welcome more foreigners, and quickly, it is headed for a demographic crisis."
Myth 4: Illegal Immigrants are smuggling a large percentage of the drugs entering the United States. Reality: Most drugs are smuggled into the US by individuals legally crossing the southern border, not illegals entering between border check-points. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration most heroin is smuggled into the country by passenger vehicles driven through legal border crossings and by tractor-trailers in which the drugs are mixed in with legal goods. The same is true for other hard drugs like cocaine and meth.
NPR: Interview with Gil Kerlikowske.
[Interviewer] Martin: "He [Kerlikowske] knows both the border and the problem of illegal drug trafficking well because he was director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection from 2014 to 2017. And before that, from 2009 to 2014, he ran the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy."
Kerlikowske: "So the drugs that are actually taking the lives of people here in the United States - methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl - almost universally come through the ports of entry along the southern border - so that is people that carry them on their bodies or even in their bodies or cars or vehicles. And then the second way is through the international postal mail service."
MARTIN: "And when you say most, what do you mean? Like, 50 percent, 60 percent, 90 percent?"
Kerlikowske: "Oh, well over 90 percent. People don't backpack or try to sneak those drugs across the border between the ports of entry because, one, they could be caught by the Border Patrol. Number two, they don't really trust those people to do that. So it's much better for them to have somebody that is taking the drugs through a port of entry where they're met on the other side of the port here in the United States, and those drugs are immediately taken."
The reality is that even if we stopped all illegal immigration, America would still be awash in dangerous drugs. Undocumented immigrants are a convenient scapegoat, but they have little to do with the problem.
Myth 5: Conservatives of the white nationalist variety argue that immigration, legal and illegal, is part of a plot [by Democrats or Jews or George Soros, depending on who you ask] to replace "white European Americans" with brown and Asian people. Researchers call this myth the "white genocide conspiracy theory, the white extinction theory or "the great replacement theory." It has racist roots and has been embraced by white supremacists in the US and Europe.
Reality: This is a particularly ugly [and absurd] conspiracy theory, and the reality is way more rational and boring. Mexicans, Central Americans, and, increasing, Asians come here to find better job opportunities and escape crime and violence. No plot or liberal cabal is involved. And, even though America is becoming more diverse, in 2055 there will still be plenty of white folks [many more than Hispanics or Blacks or Asians], and you can bet they will still be running things in Washington and the nation's corporate board-rooms. So, calm down.
The "great replacement theory," in all its simplistic nonsense, is that whites in America face decline, perhaps even extinction, because of increasing immigration and falling birthrates among white women. Note the central tenet of the argument is that people aren't just people, they are white [good] or non-white [not good]. White nationalists adopted the theory in order to provide a thin varnish of legitimacy to their prejudice, a Casus belli for their war against non-whites; they are protecting the white race and "Western civilization". Such opinions have circulated among white nationalists for decades and influenced the perpetrators of several recent mass killings.
Vox: ..."David Lane, a white supremacist responsible for the murder of a Jewish radio host in 1984, wrote the “White Genocide Manifesto” while in prison, arguing that “‘racial integration’ is only a euphemism for genocide.” He later shortened his three-page manifesto to 14 words: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Three decades later, the term “white genocide” is the single most popular hashtag used by white nationalists on Twitter."
Jacobinmag.com: "The man who killed three people and wounded several others in a mass shooting at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas, in April 2014 believed in White Genocide. So did Dylann Roof, who killed nine people during a bible study session at a black church in Charleston, North Carolina, in June 2015."
... "White Extinction theory has become immensely popular amongst a breadth of right-wing hate groups. The phrase “Jews will not replace us,” chanted by neo-Nazis at [the] Charlottesville [rally], was in direct reference to the belief that white replacement is being orchestrated by a shadowy Jewish elite."
New York Times: "On Saturday, a gunman opened fired in a Walmart store in El Paso, killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others."
"The authorities said the suspect, Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white man, wrote a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto that appeared online minutes before the massacre. Echoing the man accused of fatally shooting dozens of people at two mosques in New Zealand in March, the El Paso gunman’s manifesto mentioned the “great replacement,” a conspiracy theory that warns of white genocide."
Donald Trump and Fox news commentators contributed to the myth by discussing illegal immigration across the southern border as an "invasion" of "drug dealers and rapists" entering the country to prey on good white folks, while occasionally taking time out to vote. For instance, Fox news commentator, Jeanine Pirro once packaged both the "great replacement" conspiracy theory and the illegals voting myth in her vision of a dystopian America.
GQ: "Appearing on Thursday's episode of The Todd Starnes Show, a Fox Nation radio show, Pirro said of liberals and Democrats, "Their plot to remake America is to bring in the illegals, change the way the voting occurs in this country, give them licenses. They get to vote—maybe once, maybe twice, maybe three times." She continued, "Think about it! It is a plot to remake America—to replace American citizens with illegals who will vote for the Democrats."
This is a ridiculous, hate-filled mess of a conspiracy theory without a shred of proof and driven by naked racism. It only survives to ameliorate the guilt white nationalists must feel.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content