I got an e-mail today from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Below is the meat of the e-mail. Note that every statement of fact is well documented.
The fear of foreigners, the belief that refugees and immigrants are dangerous, the desire to keep them out — none of these things are new. But as our Teaching Tolerance project wrote this week in an updated post, these fears are often based on misinformation and lies.
It’s a myth, for example, that immigrants don’t want to learn English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 56% of first-generation immigrants speak English “well” or “very well,” and the demand for English instruction actually far outstrips supply.
It’s a myth that immigrants are violent or criminal. According to a new report by The Sentencing Project, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born citizens. Higher levels of immigration may even have contributed to the historic drop in crime rates, researchers say.
In the run-up to both Muslim bans, perhaps the most widely circulated myth has been that refugees are not screened before entering the country, that banning them will keep the U.S. safe from terror.
But we know that refugees undergo more rigorous screenings than any other individuals the government allows in the U.S., and we know that no deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to people from the countries covered by either executive order in the last 30 years.
All of these myths, however far-fetched, are based on the same dangerous falsehood: that immigrants and refugees are somehow not like us. That they’re not students in search of an education. That they’re not families trying to make ends meet. That as “somebody else’s babies,” they don’t belong here.
Some of my own thoughts: We Homo sapiens have been moving, migrating, traveling, wandering, fleeing since we became Homo sapiens. Migration and movement are among the most fundamental currents in human history. Migration has never been stopped in spite of numerous attempts to do so. Migration will never be stopped. The Romans tried. The Chinese tried. We Americans have tried in the past. These attempts have never been successful. It looks like we’re about to embark on an expensive, foolish, futile attempt to do so. An attempt doomed from the start to failure.
Why not tear down the walls? (Didn’t a Republican president say something like this?) ACCEPT immigrants and allow them to become a productive part of our society instead of condemning them to be outcasts on the peripheries.
Well, I’m not an immigrant, but all of my grandparents were. All Americans can make a similar statement. Even Native American ancestors came from Siberia.