Rational Middle Podcast Debunks Common Misconceptions about Immigration in US

A recent episode of the Rational Middle of Immigration podcast examined common misconceptions about immigration in the US. Show host Melissa Brannan and author and Cornell Professor Glenn Altschuler discuss facts and points that prove immigration challenges are often not as simple as they seem, and that comprehensive solutions are needed.  

One misconception that speakers addressed is what many refer to as the border crisis, with the misconception being that the border is the only part of the US immigration system that is in crisis. 

"The surge of migrants at the southern border is a concern that Americans should have. There are things that we could be doing to address that concern that we're not doing. But the crisis in many respects refers to immigrants as a whole, their presence in American society, politics, and the economy, and the degree to which they play a pivotal role in this country. And as all too few Americans realize, the demonstrated need that we have for more immigrants to come into this country rather than fewer immigrants," said Altschuler.

Elaborating further on the economic need for a reliable flow of legal workers, Altschuler addressed the notion that immigrants take jobs from Americans.

"Economists agree that the US now has a significant labor shortage. There are many reasons for this labor shortage...The population is aging in the US, and before very long we will have more Americans over the age of 65 than under the age of 18. Social security needs more people paying into the fund to be viable. At the very same time the population is aging and workers are withdrawing, we have had a significant decrease in the number of immigrants coming to this country," he said. 

"It is true that many immigrants take low paying jobs...Many of the jobs, particularly agricultural laborers and service workers, are not jobs that Americans want. So, they are not really depriving people born here from their opportunity to work. It's also worth saying that immigrants make up a significant portion of people who work in STEM, computer science, and healthcare, and that their contributions to this country are invaluable," Altschuler added.  

Altschuler addressed some other misconceptions that many Americans have:

  • whether immigrants commit more crimes than individuals born in the US: they do not
  • whether or not immigrants are responsible for the importation of fentanyl into the US: they are not 
  • whether immigrants are more likely than people born in the US to need and receive public assistance: they are not 
  • whether so-called undocumented immigrants are people who have come across the Mexican border illegally: many have come on visas, their visas expired, and they haven't returned 

Speakers pointed out that these misconceptions have an impact on US politics because many Americans do not fully know about the contributions immigrants are making to American society. They called for lawmakers to offer solutions ranging from having more judges and officials at the border who can process requests for asylum, to dealing with unauthorized immigrants who are already here. 

"We're not going to kick out 11 million people, and we shouldn't. Many have been here for decades," said Altschuler.

Learn more about these issues from the latest episode of the Rational Middle Podcast: Glenn Altschuler and Immigration Misconceptions below. Also check out the free Rational Middle of Immigration Video Docuseries that examines more issues associated with the US immigration system.​


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