The Truth On Immigration

On November 9th the 45th President of the United States was elected.  Since then, AI Justice's phones have been ringing off the hook with calls from terrified immigrants worried they're about to be deported.  Many challenges now confront us.  Most importantly, we need to ensure that the fundamental principles upon which our country stands, including liberty and justice for all, remain intact. 

Economic uncertainty and a rapidly changing world have spawned a fearful mean-spirit toward immigrants.  During the past year and a half countless immigrant children and their parents here heard promises from our President to deport all "illegals," seal our border, ban all Muslims from entering the United States, and end the program granting young DREAMers brought to this country as children a temporary reprieve from removal. 

So today we strengthen our resolve to ensure that immigrants' basic rights are soundly defended. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that immigrants are not subject to abuse or injustice, are not afraid to seek help, have a fair opportunity to make their case within our legal system, and have their contributions valued and encouraged.

Our lawyers have represented thousands of vulnerable immigrants from the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia-traumatized children alone in this country, newcomers trafficked into slavery, and asylum seekers who would face persecution in their homelands.  We have worked with the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies to preserve the laws' intent without sacrificing human rights and America's deeply held commitment to justice.

Almost everyone, regardless of party affiliation, agrees that our immigration system is badly broken.   Former President Ronald Reagan signed an immigration bill in 1986, George W. Bush repeatedly expressed support for sensible immigration reform, claiming "America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and the faith and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants." And some Republicans running for the highest Office in the land this past year supported meaningful immigration reform.  Failing to fix the current system will only make us a weaker, more divided country.

For more than two centuries, the US has provided refuge to countless deserving immigrants, giving hope and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream to millions who had nowhere else to turn. We defend the American Dream by fighting for what it stands for:  human rights, justice and the promise of a better tomorrow.

America's story is ennobled by men and women of character and generosity who stood up at critical, historic moments to move our nation forward.  This is one of those times.  We hope that we can count on you to stand up with us in the critical months ahead.  

Here are some of what AI Justice believes to be the most crucial yet overlooked facts on immigration: 
The Truth on Immigration 
  • Our border is more secure than ever.

    • US taxpayers currently spend roughly $19 billion a year to secure our border, which is the same amount of money all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies have combined.[1]
    • Obama increased Border Patrol staffing to an all-time high of nearly 21,500 agents in 2011 and his Administration has virtually ended the practice of "voluntary returns," or turning back Mexicans without any consequences. [2]
    • Under President Obama, over 2.5 million immigrants have been deported, up 23% from the George W. Bush years. Obama is now on pace to deport more people than the sum of all 19 presidents who governed the United States from 1892-2000, according to government data.


    Immigration to the US has actually decreased.

    • Unauthorized immigration is at its lowest level since 1972.  The only increase in arrivals are unaccompanied children fleeing gang violence and drug cartels in Central America.[3] 
    • More Mexicans have been leaving our country in recent years than arriving at our border. [4]  


    For countless immigrants, there is no "line."

    Most undocumented immigrants don't have the necessary family or employment relationships to even get in line and often can't qualify for refugee or asylum status. Even those who can get in line and have done everything possible to emigrate legally typically face significant backlogs. For example, married children of US citizens from Mexico must wait more than 20 years for a visa to become available. An exception has been made for Cubans, who can come to the U.S. and get a work permit while waiting for their visas, and to a lesser extent for Haitians since the 2010 earthquake.[5]


    Undocumented immigrants contribute greatly to our economy.

    • Undocumented immigrants paid roughly $12 billion in state and local taxes in 2013.[6]
    • Upwards of two thirds of undocumented immigrants pay into the Social Security system, without any expectation of ever collecting benefits.  Estimated contributions are $15 billion a year.[7]
    • If Congress were to fix our broken immigration system, the federal deficit would be reduced by app. $200 billion in the first 10 years alone. [8]


    Immigrants More Law Abiding than Other Groups

    Most undocumented immigrants, including Mexicans, are not “criminals, drug dealers and rapists,” as Mr. Trump claims.  A July 2015 report by the American Immigrant Council concluded that undocumented immigrants commit violent crimes at a far lower rate than native born Americans.  Despite high poverty rates, Latino immigrants in border towns and New York City were more law abiding, with lower crime rates, than non-Latino white and black Americans[9] and the crime rate among first generation immigrants is significantly lower than that of the general population.[10] Even the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes any kind of plan to legalize the status of undocumented immigrants and regularly testifies against them in Congress told PBS NewsHour, “There’s no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else.”[11]

    Immigrants Aren’t Taking Americans’ Jobs

    A September 2016 report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found “little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term.”  The report called immigration “integral to the nation’s economic growth” because immigrants bring new ideas and add to an American labor force that would be shrinking without them, helping ensure continued growth into the future.[12]


    Despite all the anti-immigrant rhetoric, there is reason to KEEP HOPE ALIVE:

    • Polls have demonstrated that a majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for immigrants already here.  An August, 2015 Gallup Poll showed most Americans support allowing immigrants to come out of the shadows and legalize their status.[13] Two in three U.S. adults favored a plan to allow immigrants living without status in the U.S. to remain in the country and become citizens if they meet certain requirements over time. Far fewer supported allowing those immigrants to remain in the U.S. to work for a limited period of time (14%), or to deport all of these immigrants back to their home countries (19%). U.S. adults' views have been largely stable over the past decade.
    • In 2013 a bipartisan immigration reform bill passed the Senate and Hill insiders believed there were sufficient votes in the House to support immigration reform.  Although former House Speaker John Boehner never sent the bill to the floor, next year there will be another opportunity to take up immigration reform.


    Our hope in sharing this information is that together we stand up against racist, xenophobic rhetoric that disregards the facts and prevents hardworking, deserving families from achieving their "American Dream."  


    [1] Andrew Schneider, “How Much Is Enough When It Comes To Spending On Border Security In Texas?” Houston Public Media, March 29, 2016.

    [2] Erica Werner and Nicholas Riccardi, “AP FACT CHECK: Donald Trump on immigration,” Associated Press, September 1, 2016.

    [3] Ibid.

    [4] Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, “More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, November 19, 2015.

    [5] American Immigration Council, August 12, 2016.

    [6] Institute on Taxes Economic Policy (ITEP), February 24, 2016.

    [7] Stephen Gross, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration.

    [8] Congressional Budget Office Report, 2013.

    [9] Jane C. Timm, “Fact-Checking Donald Trump’s Immigration Speech in Arizona,” NBC News, September 1, 2016.

    [10] Bianca Bersani, Sociologist, University of Massachusetts—Boston.

    [11] Alan Gomez, “Voices:  How Violent are undocumented Immigrants,” USA Today, July 16, 2015.

    [12] Julia Preston, “Immigrants Aren’t Taking Americans’ Jobs, New Study Finds,” New York Times, September 21, 2016.

    [13] Gallup Poll, August 12, 2015.


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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.