Myths surrounding immigration and the border crisis

The United Nations has called what the United States has been doing to migrants at the border “a human rights abuse.” Congress has done nothing despite visits to these overcrowded detention centers where malnutrition, sexual abuse, disappearances, and deaths have rampant. The most traumatizing aspect of the process has been family separations where even babies have been separated from their caregivers. Many of these children have disappeared, many more have been abused, and all have been traumatized.

Defendants of these laws say that it is “the law” and the law has been broken by these migrants. That is false. Before getting into the laws, let’s debunk the myths with data.


The biggest problem with our immigration is that our policies and public understanding of immigration is circa 1997 instead of 2019. Consequently, we are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of the current immigration crisis.

From population data and subsequent report by the Bipartisan Policy Center:

You can download the full infographic, “Top 10 Facts About the Immigration Trend,” parts of which are included below.

MYTH 1 The number of migrants is unprecedented. FALSE.

Border crossings are at their lowest levels in decades, and current research estimates more unauthorized immigration is caused by visa overstays than illegal entry.

Foreign population breakdown 1997 vs 2017:

  • 1n 1997, European descent 17% in 1997 substantially declined to 10.3% in 2017. 
  • In 1997, Asians accounted for 26.1%; today, Asians account for 30%.
  • In 1997, Central Americans accounted for 6.3%; today, they are at 8.1%
  • In 1997, South Americans accounted for 5.9% and increased to 7.3%.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

There has not been major growth in the unauthorized population for many years.

MYTH 2: Those damn Mexicans. FALSE

Today there are more Asians than Mexicans living in the United States. Mexican born population has remained steady for over 20 years, between 27-29%. Mexicans are a smaller percentage of the overall U.S. population than they have been for many years. 

The Pew Research Center has reported extensively on the undocumented population and estimates that there are approximately 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States. The “Northern Triangle” countries—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—have all consistently increased as shares of the undocumented U.S. population. India has driven the growth in the Asian undocumented U.S. population, as the levels from countries like China and Korea have largely remained constant for the past 15 to 20 years.

The growth in Mexicans’ usage of legal visas (evidenced in the growth of H-2A and H-2B visas), coupled with a major decline in Mexican illegal immigration based on total apprehensions from the US Customs and Border Protection, has changed things dramatically at the border compared with the mid-1990s.

MYTH 3 Illegal immigrants are uneducated. FALSE

Currently, almost half of all immigrants in the United States have more than a high school education. A recent Migration Policy Institute study found that between 2011 and 2015, nearly half of all new immigrants were college graduates.