Last month, I wrote about Erick, a 22 year-old student who may be deported because he was driving with an expired driver’s license in North Carolina. Last week, the judge issued a continuance, which means that he’ll have to go back to court in September to find out his fate.
When I’ve talked to people about Erick’s case, I’ve discovered that many of us, myself included, have been taught many wrong things about immigration.
Regular readers of Imagine 2050 know that anti-immigrant groups, part of the Tanton network, work tirelessly to spread myths and lies about immigration. And now there are so many myths that we have to number them.
A friend gave me a very cool poster: “Immigration 10 myths” inspired by Aviva Chomsky’s book They Take Our Jobs And 20 Other Myths About Immigration.
In the spirit of Chomsky’s book, here are 5 misconceptions that many of us seem to have about immigration:
Misconception #1: They should just become citizens.
If only that could happen! The laws make it difficult, if not impossible, for undocumented immigrants to become citizens. Many young people have lived here most of their lives; however, they can’t become citizens. We need to pass laws like the DREAM ACT to change this. But politicians, including Democrats like Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), vote against such legislation.
Misconception #2: They don’t pay taxes.
Yes, they do. The government issues tax id numbers (ITIN’s) for undocumented immigrants. Therefore, they pay taxes, including social security, but they will never benefit from such programs unless we pass immigration reform. While some of us may scratch our heads as to why many corporations seem to pay little to no taxes, we should know that undocumented workers contributed an estimated $11.2 billion in taxes last year.
Misconception #3: Illegal is illegal, and legal is legal.
American history teaches us that many people have not been able to become citizens because of institutional racism. At one time, a black person couldn’t become a citizen. In 1922, the Supreme Court ruled that a man born in Japan who had lived in the United States for 20 years was of the “Japanese race,” and therefore couldn’t be a citizen. He was not “white,” per se. In 1923, the court said that a man who was “Asian Indian” could not be a citizen because he was not “white.”
Most people today aren’t as blatantly racist. They use words like “illegal.” There is a campaign now to “drop the i-word,” to stop calling people “illegal.” Ningún ser humano es ilegal. No one who is a human being is illegal.
Misconception #4: If you get a deportation order, there’s nothing you can do.
Courageous young people like the NC Dream Team are educating immigrants about their rights. By going public and educating others through the media, many students have a chance to stop their deportations with a request for deferred action.
Misconception #5: All this doesn’t affect me.
Of course, it does. Unfortunately, many states are passing anti-immigrant legislation. If you don’t speak out and work for change, then you’re letting an unjust system get worse.
Don’t be silent. Sign Erick’s petition: http://action.dreamactivist.org/erick. Share this information with your friends.