11 Facts About American Immigrants

Statue of Liberty

1. The politically correct term for a foreign worker is undocumented worker not illegal immigrant. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, no human being is illegal or without basic human rights.

2. The DREAM ACT is not a free pass for undocumented students. The Senate's proposed bill called Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors is aimed at sending undocumented immigrants to college. However, there are many stipulations like:

  • The bill provides conditional permanent residency, not citizenship.
  • The candidate must have arrived in the US as a 16-year-old or younger and has lived here for at least 5 years.
  • The candidate must have graduated from an American high school or received a GED.
  • He or she must be of "good moral character" (i.e. no criminal record).

3. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and was introduced as a substitute of the DREAM Act. Since its announcement in June 2012, it has provided certain young immigrants with the opportunity of avoiding deportation and possibly acquiring work authorization (renewable every two years) if they meet the following guidelines:

  • Being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Coming to the United States before age 16 
  • Having continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time  
  • Being physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time requesting deferred action with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Entering without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expiring as of June 15, 2012
  • Being currently in school, having graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, having obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or having an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
  • Having not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise posing a threat to national security or public safety.

4. Immigration helps American-born workers. According to a White House study, immigrants compliment the American-born population. As Americans become older and more educated, younger immigrants provide the lower-skilled labor needed.

5. Becoming a citizen costs money. Just to apply for citizenship costs over $600 per person.

6. Marrying a U.S. Citizen doesn't make you a U.S. Citizen. An immigrant cannot even qualify to become a citizen unless he or she has been married to and living with the U.S. citizen for three years.

7. There are 32 types of visas for temporary visitors. For the complete list of types, click here.

8. The test to become a citizen involves four sections:

  • Speaking English
  • Reading English
  • Writing English
  • American Civics

There are exceptions. For instance, if an elderly person has lived here long enough, he or she can take just the civics test in his or her native language.

9.  Mexican immigrants account for the majority of both legal immigrants and unauthorized immigrants.

10.  Immigrants pay taxes. According to a study form the University of Chicago, legal immigrants pay income taxes but are not eligible for income benefits like Social Security. Additionally, all types of immigrants pay sales tax and real estate tax like everyone else.

11. Incarceration rates are lower for immigrants than for their native-born counterparts. That's because immigrants are less likely to commit crimes.

Promote understanding with education. GO

Sources: Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, USCIS