Immigration seems to be a prevailing issue in the news. With so many statements on the matter from the ever-more-divided left and right, it can be hard to discern fact from folly, nonetheless form a well-educated opinion. In situations like this where information is often buried in and misconstrued with pathos and ethos, it’s crucial to dig for the facts.
One phrase that comes up numerously in the news cycle is “crisis at the border.” Rhetoric like this that has commonly been used by countless news sources has led many to believe that illegal immigration is at an all time high. But, is it?
The United States Border Control has released statistics regarding the amount of people who have been apprehended for illegal border-crossing yearly since 1925. These numbers are a reflection of how many people have illegally crossed the border without being apprehended as well. With the facts in front of us, it’s clear to see that illegal immigration spiked in the early 1950s and from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s. But since 2007, illegal immigration has dropped drastically in comparison to the last 40 years.
Furthermore, according to the Pew Research Center, which sourced its data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States is in line with data from the U.S. Border Control, and has also been on the decline since 2007.
Unauthorized immigration is nothing new; it’s something the government has been tracking and concerned with for nearly a century. The amount of people who are crossing the Southwest border and seek asylum in the United States is in line with historical norms.
Immigrants Benefit Communities
Immigration is a pivotal component of a sound, prosperous United States society and economy. When a person has little contact with people whose culture differs from their own, it can be hard for them to break out of a mindset in which people who look, speak, or act in ways that differ from what’s familiar are immediately labeled as “threat.” By integrating unique and unfamiliar cultures into the fabric of the United States, immigrants enrich our society, broaden our minds, and increase the equality and acceptance of all citizens.
In addition to expanding our cultures, the United States benefits tremendously from immigrants who contribute to innovation, patents, and the expansion of the economy. According to the American Immigration Council, as of 2015, immigrants make up about a quarter of highly-skilled STEM jobs such as mathematics and engineering. Additionally, more immigrants have patented inventions in the United States than every other country combined.
Undocumented immigrants make up 5% of the U.S. workforce and hold vital, unpopular, low-paying jobs in industries that push the United States forward like agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. The U.S. relies on this group both culturally and economically. According to a study by the Center for North American Studies, eliminating undocumented immigrant labor on dairy farms alone would reduce U.S. economic output by $32.1 billion and cause milk prices to rise over 90%. Undocumented immigrants are an important group and they pay taxes, contributing over $20 billion annually.
How You Can Help
If you would like opportunities to support immigrants and vulnerable communities, one of the best things to do is support people who have been displaced in your own community. The first and most important step in supporting immigrants is getting educated on their rights. Learning from, promoting, and distributing information about the rights of undocumented immigrants in multiple languages is one of the best ways to be an ally. Here are some resources we trust:
The ACLU is a reliable, trusted resource for undocumented immigrants. As stated on the organization’s website, the ACLU “works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Here, you can find resources to learn about the rights of undocumented people who encounter the police. These resources in particular aim to empower immigrants through education. Advocating for undocumented immigrants can be as simple as getting informed, but could extend to talking about the rights of undocumented immigrants with a friend or coworker, posting links to resources on social media, or distributing resources in your community.
When transitioning to a new place, having a safe, supportive community is a crucial component of seamless integration to a safe and prosperous life. Welcoming America works to transform communities across the nation into diverse, inclusive places for all people. This organization’s site has abundant resources for both you and new members of your community including toolkits for how to build meaningful connection, how to build an inclusive local economy, and how to promote refugee and community wellness. You can support Welcoming America by making a donation, learning from their resources, or even hosting a Welcome Week in your town.
The Immigration Defense Project is an organization that aims to protect marginalized communities. By providing accessible resources, challenging biased laws, advocating for just policies, and empowering communities, this organization aims to protect undocumented individuals from deportation. The resources include, but aren’t limited to, an ICE Raids Toolkit, a criminal immigration hotline, and a free seminar on deportation.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, is a Congresswoman for the Bronx and Queens who heavily supports the rights of immigrants. AOC has a knack for sharing useful information on twitter in an approachable way. Follow her for an additional resource to help you stay up-to-date on the latest happenings regarding immigration and organizations that are doing great work.
Show Support for Immigrant New Yorkers: Donating and Social Media
The immigrant community in New York brings diversity that we love and pride ourselves on. If you’d like to show your support, either financially or with a follow on social media, here are some outstanding organizations to point you in the right direction:
Adhikaar is a community center committed to social justice that supports the Napali-speaking migrant community in NYC.
African Communities Together is an NYC-based organization that advocates for better civil rights and empowers African immigrants to successfully integrate socially, economically, and civically into the United States.
Desis Rising Up, or DRUM, is an organization that supports South Asian immigrants through outreach, leadership development, policy change, collaboration, and institution-building.
Make the Road NY is NYC’s largest immigration organization and works to build up the Latinx and working class community through policy change, community organizing, education, and legal services.
No matter what your time and resources allow, your allyship matters. You can get educated, promote resources, show support on social media, or donate. The ways you can support migrant communities are virtually endless, and every contribution you make counts towards a larger picture of community, acceptance, and peace.