Most undocumented immigrants work hard for long hours and low pay,
because conditions in their homelands are so desperate.
Are you willing to work in these jobs?

What is behind the many common beliefs about immigrants?

Every day we hear statements being made about immigrants taking American jobs, not wanting to learn English, using up Social Security resources, etc. How can we find out what is valid in such statements, and what are unfounded myths?

Basically, what mindsets and preconceptions do we bring to the immigration debate? Most of these statements have been used for hundreds of years with new peoples who have come to the United States. If you are of non-English ancestry (including Irish, German, Italian, etc.), the same things were said about your forefathers. Do we ever stop and ask the critical questions about how true these common ideas are and about why such statements are being made? For example, we hear that "immigrants take American jobs"... but what jobs? Also, do we keep in mind that most American jobs have been lost by corporations seeking cheap labor and higher profits overseas? Do we realize that such outsourcing cheap labor in turn creates economic and social disorder that drives migration in the first place? The realities are much more complex than the simplistic statements that only stir negative emotions without real understanding.

What are some of the common myths about immigrants? More important, what are the hidden agendas behind these myths? Who is benefiting from stirring up anti-immigrant feelings? And what are the larger impacts of hate and discrimination on the functioning and future of our society?

Getting Immigration Facts Straight
The Top Ten Ways America Gets Immigration Wrong
Top 10 Myths About Immigration


The United States was founded on a set of crucial values, outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The ideals of individual Freedom for people to fulfill their human potentials and Democracy where people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their own well-being... ideals that emerged from a people who experienced the exploitation of a world power. The vision that all men are created equal, freedom, democracy, human dignity, respect for others, and family solidarity have inspired peoples all over the world. How are these ideals upheld in the immigration debate?

What rights do all human beings have? Did you know that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inspired by the United States' Constitution and Bill of Rights? These are the standards that are now promised to every human being around the world.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Human Rights for Human Dignity (PDF)
Rights of Immigrants

Are immigrants human beings? Do immigrants have hopes and suffer pain like everyone else?

The Job (You tube)
Young Immigrants Share Their Stories
Stories: Workers Rights Are Human Rights (PDF)
A house divided

How are human rights actually realized by immigrants in the U.S.? Do Americans treat immigrants as human beings with the same standards and ideals we hold in our own constitution?

Do I Look Illegal? (video)
Racial Profiling
Lawsuit alleges racial profiling by U.S. Border Patrol
U.S. citizens mistaken for illegal immigrants
U.S. Deports Parents of Dead Soldiers
Anti-Immigrant Hate Crimes
Olympics Expose Hypocrisy of U.S. Immigration Laws
Immigrant Integration

How do immigrants make the United States a better society for us all? What did our forefathers contributed to the American society when they came to the United States? What contributions do today's immigrants make to our society?

Undocumented immigrants offer U.S. a shot of optimism
Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, originally came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant, and recently became a citizen.
Immigrants In the Military (PDF)
Immigrants Make U.S. Cities Safer
The economic case for immigration
The Role of Immigrants in the Labor Market, U.S. Congressional Budget Office.
The Economic Benefits of Immigration
Who’s creating US jobs? Mexicans.
Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement (PDF)

How do immigrants help build America's relations with the rest of the world? And how does our treatment of immigrants affect our international relations? We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected socially and economically, and immigrants are in constant contact with their home communities. Just as we are aware of how our compatriots are treated around the world, the rest of the international community knows how we treat their kinsmen and countrymen.

Building social and economic ties with Mexico (PDF)
Latin American Countries Stand Against SB 1070
An Immigrant in New York Is a Candidate in Mexico

What is wrong with our immigration system? Are we trying to fix the wrong "problem"... and are therefore doomed to fail?

Enforcement Without Reform Doesn't Work (PDF)
Amnesty International Criticizes ICE Detention Standards
America's Secret ICE Castles
Keeping Migrants Here: Research Shows Unintended Consequences of U.S. Border Enforcement
2010 may see new high in border-crossing deaths
One Year After Immigration Raid, Postville, Iowa Struggles to Survive
Abuse lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office settled for $600,000

What are your core values concerning how YOU should be treated?

How much are these values upheld in the immigration debate?

* No personal information is collected on this and other course-related pages. You may use these materials in your own personal research and learning, though I'd appreciate your giving me credit.

© Dr. Ken Barger, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Indiana University Indianapolis, 2011