8 of 100 DOCUMENTS

	The Boston Herald

	April 7, 2006 Friday 

	Give us still your masses . . .



	LENGTH: 651 words

	The voices of xenophobia once again reverberate throughout
	America. Anxious advocates of nativism envision huddled masses of
	impoverished, uneducated, disease-ridden criminals who sneak
	across our porous borders to steal jobs and murder our citizens.
	Even in the early 20th century, when most newcomers were European,
	some part of anti-immigrant sentiment reflected widespread fear of
	job loss. Whenever the jobless rate soared, so did the forces of

	But since Sept. 11, 2001, stereotyped images of immigrants have
	turned decidely more negative. Myths and misconceptions about
	newcomers have assumed the status of cultural truisms.

	** Myth 1: Criminals and terrorists are over-represented among

	Actually, they are vastly under-represented.  The National Center
	for Policy Analysis estimates that if native-born Americans had
	the same low probability of being incarcerated as all immigrants,
	our prisons would have one-third fewer inmates. El Paso and San
	Diego have extremely low homicide rates; not coincidentally, they
	also have large populations of immigrants. Closer to home, 74
	percent of Lawrence's 95,000 residents are foreign-born. In 2005,
	the Immigrant City had zero murders.

	** Myth 2: Unlike previous generations of immigrants from Europe,
	today's newcomers do not want to assimilate. In reality, every
	immigrant group has maintained its ties with the old country. At
	the turn of the 20th century, for example, Italian immigrants
	formed organizations of mutual assistance. Similarly, many Jewish
	newcomers settled in urban centers, where they established ghettos
	based on their shared religious identity. For all immigrant
	groups, assimilation generally came in the second and third

	** Myth 3: Illegal immigration is uniquely associated with our
	present population of newcomers. It is true that illegal
	immigration has increased not only in the United States, but
	around the world. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 12 million
	immigrants to the United States are considered illegal. However,
	40 percent of them crossed the border legally and overstayed

	But illegal immigration is nothing new to the United States; nor
	is it restricted to Latinos. When legal immigration from Europe
	became limited by quotas in 1924, illegal immigration soared. Many
	Europeans migrated first to Canada or Mexico and then illegally
	slipped over the border. By the 1930s, the U.S. Border Patrol was
	established to exclude and deport illegal newcomers from Europe,
	NOTLatin America.

	** Myth 4: Unlike previous generations from Europe, most
	immigrants from Latin America and Asia are poor and uneducated.
	Actually, most newcomers through the centuries were destitute. In
	the mid-1800s, many Irish fled famine. In the United States, Irish
	women took jobs as servants or domestics; Irish men toiled in
	mines or built railroads and waterways. At the turn of the 20th
	century, millions of newcomers from Italy found a new life in
	America. Almost 80 percent were unskilled workers. Not unlike
	their predecessors, many present-day immigrants are poor and
	uneducated. Through hard work and perseverance, they can take
	advantage of opportunities in their adopted country.

	Immigrants also create jobs here. Without the influx of foreign
	investment and skilled labor during the 1990s, our nation would
	have experienced economic stagnation or decline rather than

	Almost everybody agrees that immigration reform is desirable.
	Policy changes granting amnesty, erecting a wall along our
	Southern border, establishing guest worker status or deporting
	illegals are debated daily on talk radio, on cable TV and in
	Congress. Hopefully, the outcome will reflect a rational analysis
	of our national needs rather than hysteria based on stereotyped

	Jack Levin is director and Gordana Rabrenovic is associate
	director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at
	Northeastern University.

	LOAD-DATE: April 7, 2006



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