Disproving Immigration Myths

Education, post-secondary education, immigrants, immigration, ELLsAs the language surrounding immigration in the United States has recently become more vitriolic, it’s important to remember the facts around the issue—not just the talking points.

The truth is that immigration is a boon for our economy and will play a critical role in its competitiveness in the 21st century.

In a recent piece for the New York Times’ Room for Debate series, associate professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Texas at San Antonio Anne-Marie Nunez orchestrated a fine rebuttal to common immigration myths.

In Education

Recent studies, like this one from Princeton University, are showing that recent immigrants are outperforming their native-born counterparts in many different educational measures, including those surrounding post-secondary education.

It turns out that immigrant students are actually more likely to enroll in post-secondary education than native-born students. They are also more likely to finish their bachelor’s studies in less than six years. While in school, immigrants have shown themselves to be leaders in their learning communities.

In the Overall Economy

The American workforce is about to reach an aging crisis. The average age of a white person in the US is 42—within a generation, whites will average retirement age. Meanwhile, the most populous immigrant group—Latinos—have an average age of only 27. If they can be educated effectively, the country can weather this challenge.

Once immigrants enter the workforce, they are considerably productive. According to recent data, immigrants have started a disproportionate number of small businesses. They are increasingly active in the Silicon Valley start-up scene, and are awarded an increasing number of international patents.

According to Dr. Nunez, perhaps the three most prevalent misconceptions about immigrant activity—that they are less likely to pay taxes, are taking American jobs, and contribute to serious crimeare all false.

Unfortunately, the discourse around immigration in this country is likely to get worse before it gets better. Instead of looking for scapegoats, our leaders should be approaching immigration as the fortunate challenge that it is. In many ways, immigration is the future of the American economy and way-of-life.

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