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(Fairly Universal) Myths About Immigration and Immigrants

Myths, Fallacies, Misconceptions
Whichever term one prefers for its nuances (or lack thereof), myths, fallacies and misconceptions plague discussion of any major policy issue, particularly personal ones. Immigration is an especially personal and therefore emotional topic because it deals directly with human bodies and lives. Even other hotly debated topics such as privacy, health care, and policing are not as immediately personal as immigration because they do not necessarily have an immediate impact on the entirety of a persons life. Immigration relates directly to who one is, where one is from, what one does, and even what language(s) one speaks.

The difficulty in addressing immigration rights can be observed around the world. The misconceptions that I want to address come up regularly and provoke heated debate in and between the following regions and countries, to name a few of the most prominent. I have tried to indicate in which direction immigration primarily occurs by putting the place of origin first and the migration destination second. These immigration flows are almost always driven by socioeconomic factors:
  • Africa>Europe
  • Tanzania>Kenya
  • China>Japan
  • Palestine>Israel
  • Mexico>US
  • Guatemala>Mexico
  • Haiti>Dominican Republic
  • Pakistan>India

In a series of posts over the next few weeks, I want to consider several myths/fallacies/misconceptions about immigrants and immigration that muddy the rhetorical waters and prevent the debate from going forward. I have lived most of my adult life in the U.S., and in my two decades here (and more, if we go back in history) the country has seen little to no progress on the issue of immigration reform. These posts, then, are not going to change anything in the dynamic in the U.S. or any of the other countries, regions, or continents named above. But they do represent some of my general conclusions from a decade or so of research on the issue.*

Myths, Fallacies, and Misconceptions About Immigration and Immigrants
  • Immigrants are dangerous. (Part 1) (Part 2)
  • Border walls work. (Rebuttal) (Addendum)
  • Open borders lead to anarchy. (No.)
  • Open borders = no borders (No again.) (Addendum)
  • Every law needs to be enforced.
  • Deportation is the punishment for illegal entry into a country.

*I should explain that as a language professor, with research interests primarily in contemporary literature of the Americas, the topic of immigration is key to a lot of what I research and to a lot of what I share with my students. Language teaching requires the study of language in context -- in cultures and communities, which are largely defined by language-driven violence and discrimination.

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