Like for many things, there has been a stereotype developed of immigrants. Many words used to describe them are criminals, rapists, job-thieves, etc. Many Americans do not like undocumented immigrants because they believe said immigrants should have gotten in line to get in the country legally and play by the rules. What many Americans fail to understand is that there really is not a line that these undocumented immigrants are eligible to stand in. The immigration system is very restrictive and has a limited amount of visas and permanent residency they can allow. Immigrants are also less likely to commit crimes. They try their hardest to stay in the shadows to avoid deportation. The smallest offense like a speeding ticket could cause them to be deported.
If it were easy enough to just “get in line” to gain legal entrance into this country, there would be little to none undocumented immigrants. It isn’t that simple though. Aside from being an extremely expensive and long process, there are many limitations. Most do not have the family ties for a lawful entry and asylum or refugee status is only available to those fleeing persecution. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the circumstances in their countries does not allow them to get advanced degrees that would prepare them and are required for jobs that qualify for work-sponsored legal entrance. Immigration Policy states that there are 55,000 green cards available each year for those with a high school diploma and at least two years of work experience; but with so many people applying, the chances of getting a hold of one are low. Also, people that live in countries with high levels of immigration do not qualify for a green card.
Aside from the immigration being completely outdated, the stereotypes made about immigrants should be nationally debunked. One of misconceptions made by Americans is that immigrants take away jobs from citizens. According to the American Immigration Council, there really is no relation between the presence of recent immigrants and America’s unemployment. They also highlight that foreigners and citizens usually do not compete for the same jobs. Immigrants are more likely to occupy labor jobs rather than management positions. Immigrants actually help the economy as consumers and by creating jobs. Many are entrepreneurs, thus opening up businesses that require workers.
Another big misconception is the relationship between immigrants and crime. The misconception is that there is any relation between the two. Foreign-born are actually less represented in American prisons. According to Public Policy of California, the incarceration rate for foreign‐born adults is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared to 813 per 100,000 for U.S.‐born adults. Even with high school dropouts, Immigration Policy says that it is less likely for them to be incarcerated than native-borns.
The purpose of debunking these misconceptions is not to sanctify undocumented immigrants. They might be breaking a law just being here, but that doesn’t mean they are prone to become criminals. The purpose of debunking the stereotypes and misconceptions is to help them be able to “play by the rules”. The change in the immigration system is needed to unify separated families. There might actually be a line one day with more options to gain legal entrance.