Questions About Immigration

Is AI Justice concerned about the rising number of immigrants entering the country?


Actually, the rate of immigration has decreased over the past several years. The historic high came more than a century ago, in 1890, when immigrants made up 14.8 % of our population. Today, about two-thirds of immigrants are here legally, either as naturalized citizens or as lawful permanent residents, more commonly known as "green card" holders. And of the approximately 10.8 million immigrants who are undocumented, about 40 % arrived legally but overstayed their visas.

As for the flow of undocumented immigrants, the numbers of undocumented people apprehended at the border has been dropping. In fact ,the total number of such apprehensions in 2011 was 340,252, which was the lowest since 1972. The only population of immigrants that has increased in recent years is children entering the country alone. The numbers have increased from 8,041 in 2008 to 24,481 in 2012; the vast majority of these kids are fleeing the horrific gang violence and extreme poverty in Central America.  An interesting fact is that in 2013, the net migration between the United States and Mexico was toward Mexico for the first time ever.

Does advocating for commonsense immigration laws mean that border security is not a priority?


The job of protecting the nation's borders is immense, encompassing nearly 7,500 miles of land borders; 12,380 miles of coastline; and a vast network of sea ports, international airports, ports of entry along the Mexican and Canadian borders, and visa-issuing consulates abroad. As of 2013, the government had built 651 miles of fencing along the border—about three times more than existed six years before. The U.S. now operates hundreds of remote cameras, more than 13,000 ground sensors ,and five drones in the area; and the number of Border Protection agents deployed along the border has doubled in the last decade, to more than 18,000.

Those steps, together with the sluggish American economy and record-high deportations, have slowed the flood of people trying to enter the U.S. without documents to a relative trickle. Many seasoned enforcement officials argue that if the law provided enough visas to meet the economy's demand for workers, border agents would be freed to focus on protecting the nation from truly dangerous individuals and activities, such as drug-trafficking, smuggling, and cartel violence.

What is the DREAM Act?


The DREAM Act is a commonsense bill in the U.S. Congress that would help young, undocumented immigrants brought here as children to achieve their full potential and contribute their talents to the country they call home. The DREAM Act would allow those youth who graduate high school to earn legal status and eventually citizenship by meeting a set of stringent criteria. They must graduate high school and maintain good moral character, then attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years. These kids are as American as anyone born here, with the same aspirations, interests, and dreams. They will strengthen our nation’s economy and communities as did the immigrants who came before them.

Do immigrants take American jobs, use our services without paying taxes, and cost Americans taxpayers money?


No. In fact, the opposite is true. A December 2011 study by the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy found that both temporary foreign workers – even unskilled agricultural workers – and immigrants with advanced degrees boost U.S. employment. The study found no evidence that foreign-born workers, including undocumented workers, hurt U.S. employment. (Partnership for a New American Economy)

A July 2013 report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy provides state-by-state estimates on the state and local tax contributions of the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy)

The key findings are:

• Undocumented immigrants currently contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $10.6 billion in 2010, with contributions ranging from less than $2 million in Montana to more than $2.2 billion in California. This means these families are likely paying about 6.4 % on average of their income in state and local taxes. • Allowing undocumented immigrants to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion a year. Their effective state and local tax rate would also increase to 7 % on average, which would put their tax contributions more in line with documented taxpayers with similar incomes.

We also know that American immigrants, regardless of status , have a substantial overall positive impact on our economy. According to a 2008 report by the Perryman Group, if all undocumented immigrants were removed from the United States, the country would lose $551.6 billion in economic activity, $245.0 billion in gross domestic product, and approximately 2.8 million jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time. (Perryman Group)

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About Us:

AI Justice is an award-winning non-profit law and advocacy firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, we champion the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocate for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serve as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speak for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.