The Truth On Immigration

Upcoming elections are fast approaching, yet there continues to be an abundance of misinformation around key immigration issues.  On September 4, 2016, I participated in a discussion about Trump's Immigration Policy and the impact on South Florida on WPLG's "This Week in South Florida."  I was joined by Juan Gomez, Director of FIU's Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, and Denise Galvez, Co-founder of Latinas for Trump.  Click the image below to watch the segment. 

 
 
Below are what I believe to be crucial yet overlooked facts regarding immigration: 
(Citations available upon request).
  • 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.
    • 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. 
    • 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.
    • Illegal 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.  
    • More Mexicans have been leaving our country in recent years than arriving at our border.   
  • 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.
  • Undocumented immigrants contribute greatly to our economy.

    • Undocumented immigrants paid roughly $12 billion in state and local taxes in 2013.

    • 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.

    • 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. 
       

 Despite all the anti-immigrant rhetoric, there is reason to KEEP HOPE ALIVE:
  • Polls still show a majority of Americans support allowing immigrants already here to come out of the shadows and legalize their status.
  • 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.
  • A few weeks ago, DHS Secretary Jeh C. Johnson established a Review of Privatized Immigration Detention, requiring a written report by November 30, 2016.  Currently, most immigrants in ICE detention are housed in facilities run by the private prison industry, whose two largest contractors, the GEO Group and Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), have seen their stocks soar in recent years.  These stocks fell following a mid-August DOJ announcement that the Bureau of Prisons will reduce and ultimately end its use of private prisons. 
 
My 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." I welcome your comments and am happy to provide further information upon request.
 
Warm Regards,
 
Cheryl Little
Executive Director

MAIN OFFICE
3000 Biscayne Blvd, Suite 400
Miami, FL 33137
T 305-573-1106
F 305-576-6273
E-Mail: info@aijustice.org

WASHINGTON D.C. OFFICE
10 G Street NE.
Suite 710
Washington, DC 20002
T 202-248-5080

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.