Myths will probably not stop Congress from enacting some major changes in immigration policy this year, but half a dozen or so common shibboleths may well shape the changes that emerge.
Here are a few: For every immigrant legalized and able to take a job, one American citizen worker will lose his or hers. Unauthorized immigrants pay almost no taxes, while costing taxpayers many billions of dollars. New immigrants are bad for business. Immigrant workers cause wages to drop, especially unauthorized immigrants. Immigrant workers cause African-American unemployment to rise.
A host of new academic studies now shows every one of these widely-believed statements to be false. And there are reasons why each is untrue.
The most pervasive of these kinds of anti-immigrant claims — often repeated in Congress and on talk radio — relate to taxes. Undocumented immigrants pay far less in taxes than they use in government services, goes the myth, promoted in part by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, which in 2004 claimed immigrant households cost the federal government $10 billion more than they pay in taxes. But U.S. Census figures indicate otherwise...