The immigration crisis isn’t what you think it is

Glenn C. Altschuler
Date of Publication: 
October, 2022
Source Organization: 

A solid majority of Americans believe that the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is a “crisis.” Some of them, to be sure, decry family separation and violations of the rights of asylum seekers, while others emphasize threats to national security.

That said, many Americans are drawing the wrong conclusions from the crisis. Stigmatizing individuals and families who enter the country legally as well as illegally and denying or downplaying the contributions of undocumented people who have lived and worked here for decades, they do not recognize that increased immigration is essential to addressing inflation and the great and growing labor shortage in the United States.

Drawing on xenophobia, which is deeply embedded in American political culture, and espoused most fervently by white Christian nationalists, Donald Trump has framed the issue of immigration for his MAGA base. He has used the terms “invasion,” “criminals,” “drug dealers,” and “terrorists,” hundreds of times. As he announced his candidacy for president in 2015, Trump declared that Mexico is “not sending their best.” In July 2016, he maintained, without evidence, that “decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens.” In 2018, Trump said “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, without judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came.” And, of course, building a wall became the Trump administration’s actual — and metaphorical — solution to America’s problems.

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Altschuler, G. (2022, October). The immigration crisis isn’t what you think it is. The Hill.