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#TeenSummit2018: Immigration, Advocacy & Support by Steven Kenyon

February 7, 2018

We as a community need to help and support fellow immigrant allies and friends among us along with the immigration process itself. It is important to show love and support for everyone around us including immigrants which the image of over the years has been skewed into a term to be afraid of, we as a community need to help end this myth that all immigrants do not bring crime, drugs, and rape to the United States. Immigrant people are crucial to the country and should be welcomed into the United States like any other person without the hysteria and trailing stereotypes with being an immigrant.

Immigration for a long time has helped support the United States’ growth of the U.S. economy for instance. Immigrant and refugee people are not jobless and crime causers. Immigrants and refugees are entrepreneurs, job creators, taxpayers, and consumers.[1] Trillions of dollars are added to the United States’ GDP which will only increase with the upcoming decades as labor and job position demands will increase.[2] Through legislative reform to modernize the U.S. immigration system and provide unauthorized immigrants in the country with a path to citizenship would only help the U.S. economy and society even more so.[3] Now increased immigration enforcement and potential restrictions on legal immigrations and refugee resettlement will impose fiscal costs on taxpayers and threaten immigrants as well as their families, and communities across the country. Strengthening these detentions and deportations will not just cost taxpayers billions of dollars but also break up families and displace vulnerable individuals such as survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault within the U.S. as well as women and children fleeing violence in their homelands into peril.[4] To put it into perspective, about 43.4 million foreign-born people live within the U.S, 20.7 million naturalized U.S. citizens and 22.6 million noncitizens.[5] And to end the myth that immigrants bring crime into the country, a 2017 study by the Cat Institute found that the 2014 incarceration rate for immigrants-both authorized and unauthorized-ages 18 to 54 was considerably lower than that of the U.S.-born population.[6] While the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 11.1% to 13.5% from 2000 to 2015, FBI data indicate that violent crime rates across the country fell 16%, while property crime rates fell 21% during the same time period.[7] These are only a small handful of how immigrant people are discriminated and misjudged, there would be simply too many issues to list but now we know how crucial immigrants and the immigration process are to the country. As a community it is our job to help welcome people and help raise awareness about these issues together. https://www.immigrationadvocates.org is an amazing resource for the public to be educated upon important immigrant and immigration related issues. They provide and have a team of attorneys representing for immigrants all around the United States fighting for immigrants. A more local resource and example is the Iowa Immigrant Rights Program[8] who is directed by Erica Johnson in which the AFSC’s Iowa Immigrant Rights Program helps build a community for immigrants to help participate in political activities. This program helps hundreds of immigrants from dozens of countries. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center[9] is a team of legal experts that provide training and educational materials in order to further advance immigrant rights within the United States. One more resource is another law organization supporting immigrant rights and defending things such as DACA and supporting dreamers. They are referred to as the Nation Immigration Law Center[10]. All of these groups of people want to help immigrants and support their life here within the United States through various means whether it be raising awareness through programs and conference or supporting immigration lawfully and defending them which is a great commendable action. We can take after and or support these groups and help support our fellow immigrants within the country to make it a better and friendlier place to live.

[1] American Immigration Council, “Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians” (2015), available at https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/strength-diversity-economic-and-political-power-immigrants-latinos-and-asians.

[2] Francine D. Blau and Christopher Mackie, eds., “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration” (Washington: National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016), available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23550/the-economic-and-fiscal-consequences-of-immigration.

[3] Silva Mathema, “Infographic: Inaction on Immigration Is Too Costly,” Center for American Progress, April 9, 2015, available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2015/04/09/110589/infographic-inaction-on-immigration-is-too-costly/.

[4] Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega, “The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2016), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2016/09/21/144363/the-economic-impacts-of-removing-unauthorized-immigrant-workers/; Joanna Dreby, “How Today’s Immigration Enforcement Policies Impact Children, Families, and Communities” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2012), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/DrebyImmigrationFamilies.pdf.

[5] Bureau of the Census, Selected Characteristics of the Native and Foreign-Born Populations: 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2015), available at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_1YR_S0501&prodType=table.

[6] Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh, “Criminal Immigrants: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin” (Washington: Cato Institute, 2017), available at https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/immigration_brief-1.pdf.

[7] Authors’ calculations based on data from Federal Bureau of Investigation, “2015 Crime in the United States,” available at https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015 (last accessed April 2017); Bureau of the Census, Selected Characteristics of the Native and Foreign-Born Populations; Bureau of the Census, Nativity, Citizenship, Year of Entry, and Region of Birth: 2000 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2003), available at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.

[8] https://www.afsc.org/program/iowa-immigrant-rights-program

[9] https://www.ilrc.org

[10] https://www.nilc.org