What is legal immigration? The nationwide misunderstanding

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2019 | US Immigration Law

Immigration has been a heated topic of debate among political parties in recent years. Conservative groups pushing for stricter immigration restrictions all seem to tout the same basic principles: legal immigration is good; illegal immigration is bad.

While this is a concept that many Americans can get behind, the problem lies in the pervasive misinformation on what actually constitutes legal immigration. There is also a growing misconception that the vast majority of immigrants currently residing in the U.S. are here illegally. Such false information has led to misguided beliefs on the subject of immigration at large.

Misconception #1: most U.S. immigrants are illegal

Many politically-skewed news sources can lead you to believe that most U.S. immigrants are deceitful and have no legal right to be here. They can also give the impression that immigrants are swarming the country in droves and are taking over the country.

Firstly, it’s important to point out that immigrants make up only 13% of the entire U.S. population. Of this group, 77% of them are here legally. In other words, of all the people in this country, 97% of them have the legal right to be here.

Misconception #2: immigrants should “get in line”

The second common misconception is an oversimplification of the entire immigration process – as well as a misunderstanding of what types of immigration are, in fact, legal. There seems to be a belief that there is one line in which all prospective immigrants must wait in order to enter the country. The understanding seems to be that migrants fleeing their home countries in Central America – and seeking protection in the U.S. – are somehow trying to skirt the rules and get ahead in this (nonexistent) line. The belief is that such individuals are behaving illegally and should wait their turn.

This is simply not true. Under U.S. law, it is completely legal for asylees and refugees to come to this country for protection. The rules for them are different than for other individuals trying to enter the U.S. Because such immigrants are fleeing for their lives, they naturally receive more prioritized consideration.

Immigration is a controversial subject. But problems arise when the parties representing different stances are misinformed. Undocumented immigrants represent a small portion of our population. Many people we tend to condemn as illegal intruders are actually here under the protections of U.S. law.