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Immigration Fallacy #1: Immigrants are dangerous. (Part 2)

Following on the previous post in this series on immigration myths, fallacies, and misconceptions, this brief essay continues to explain why immigrants should not be portrayed as dangerous. Consider three specific areas of threat or danger:

Immigrants do not generally present a physical danger.
Clearly many people who advocate stricter immigration controls do not harbor xenophobia. Some of them just cannot see past the threat of terrorism or gang violence. This is a very real concern and should be treated seriously. But as the previous post explains, this fear is unfounded in regard to immigrants. If it is a fear that you experience, I understand. I have family members that live under the constant threat and danger of the most barbaric cartel violence you can imagine. But if you have been led to believe that tighter immigration restrictions, more deportations, or higher border walls will make you safe, then you have been misled. That violence spreads regardless of those apparent solutions. The danger of true criminals has to be dealt with through highly sophisticated social and economic policies, as well as by professional crime fighters -- not immigration legislators or enforcers.

Immigrants do not generally present an economic danger.
Another common argument for tighter immigration controls is that “immigrants take our jobs!” This argument can be made by the citizenry of a country or by the government. It is basically always a fallacious argument. All governments wants some immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, even if they say otherwise in their public discourse. They want them to help with jobs that the economy has trouble filling. But publicly, they will say otherwise, for example in Kenya, which regularly invites Tanzanians in to work and just as regularly throws them out. The reason for the latter, and for xenophobic discourse, is simple. It sounds like the ruling party cares very much about the nation, its citizens, and its economy. But almost no reliable study concludes that immigration (regardless of whether it is legal or illegal) is bad for any economy -- much less that immigrants take jobs from citizens. It is just a very bad argument. By and large, immigration is good for economiesI recommend that you look at nonpartisan studies. Partisan studies, even from seemingly reliable think tanks, begin and end with their conclusion (i.e., immigration is good/bad for the economy).

Immigrants do not generally present a cultural danger.
A final argument against immigrants is the idea that immigrants want to or by default do import their cultures and undermine the target culture, including language. This argument is worth considering for how it fundamentally misunderstands culture. It is true that any human migrant moves with his or her culture, influencing other cultures and being influenced by them as well. And that is perfectly natural. In the words of Edward Said“Cultural forms are hybrid, mixed, impure, and the time has come in cultural analysis to reconnect their analysis with their actuality” (Cultural and Imperialism, 14). If immigration opponents fear that immigrants will fundamentally alter their target culture, then two observations are in order. First, the burden of proof is on them. It simply wont happen, at least not quickly or in at any pace accelerated beyond how cultural change is happening everywhere anyway. Second, throughout history, immigrants have only fundamentally altered their target cultures when that has been one of their primary objectives, as in colonialism or imperialism. Consider, for example, the Europeans who came and ravaged North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Immigration opponents today are generally the ones who would be on the side of colonizers of the past, or the imperialists of today, the non-lovers of neighbors. And that statement is meant very much as a harsh reminder and firm Christian denunciation of much of our contemporary worlds imperialistic liberalism and capitalism.

Any reason to limit immigration needs to consider both why immigrants migrate and what their effects truly are. The answers to those questions will reveal that fears of immigrants are unfounded. At the very least, the answers will reveal that immigrants, whether undocumented or not, do not have any intention to undermine the security, economy, or culture of their destination country.

Without injurious intentions or effects on the part of immigrants, it is very hard to make a good case for limiting human migration.

Each of the previous three section titles contains the word “generally.” In advocating better immigration policies (i.e., very few restrictions on human movement), we cannot resist myths, fallacies, and misconceptions with other fallacies. Immigrants can, of course, be dangerous. Politicians can be dangerous. Teachers can be dangerous. Lawyers can be dangerous. Police officers can be dangerous. Even children can be dangerous. Anyone can be dangerous. But the immigration discussion cannot fall back on the “immigrants are dangerous” argument any longer because it is simply fallacious.


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