Why an Immigration Committee?
The LWV has long held the beliefs that our democracy is rooted in the diversity of voices and that immigrants have contributed greatly to this country. The Immigration Committee’s main goal is to nurture the integration of immigrants by promoting civic engagement while combating fearmongering within our communities.
What are current immigration-related issues requiring our attention?
- Family separation: Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents after being detained by the U.S. Border and Customs Patrol. Currently, the federal government estimates that it will take at least two years to reunite families. The League maintains that the current practice of separating families at our borders violates human rights and our moral responsibility.
- Deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants and families: The Immigration andCustoms Enforcement (ICE) agency continues to target non-criminal immigrants. In Florida, most undocumented immigrants have been in the U.S. for over 10 years and comprise a large part of the workforce in key industries (tourism/hospitality, agriculture and construction). The League of Women Voters CEO, Virginia Kase, made the following comments about the administration’s raids to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants: “The League of Women Voters stands in solidarity with the entire immigrant community during this terrifying time. The inhumane detention and deportation policies of this administration are un-American and an insult to our democracy.”
- Florida Federal Immigration Enforcement Law (SB 168): Florida’s Governor signed an anti-immigrant bill demanding that our local law-enforcement agencies collaborate with ICE by detaining undocumented immigrants in our local jails. There are many concerns and a lawsuit has already been filed. Some of the concerns include the violation of the U.S. Constitution that potentially leads to racial profiling and compels localities to take on federal responsibilities, the compromise to public safety, and the negative image created of Florida, an immigrant state and tourist location. Responding to SB168, the LWV FL renewed its commitment to defending Sanctuary and Welcoming Cities during our 2019 Convention.
What are current positive immigration-related actions?
- Welcoming Cities: A number of actions have been taken by our local governments to properly integrate immigrants and value their contributions to our communities. In Palm Beach County, the cities of West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Lake Worth Beach, in addition to the PBC Board of Education have all passed Welcoming Resolutions.
- Attempts to pass DREAM and Promise Act: Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Dream and Promise Act” – H.R.6, a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 2.5 million eligible immigrants. This bill, which passed with bipartisan support, focuses on protecting immigrant youth – commonly called Dreamers – and potential/current holders of temporary protected status – TPS.
On September 12, the Immigration Committee hosted, in partnership with the Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association, “Call to Action: Community Response to the Immigration Crisis.” In addition to showcasing organizations that are doing outstanding work in response to the immigration crisis, this event brought together about 150 prospective volunteers, who signed up to help with a variety of activities (from visiting detained immigrants to helping with the community ID program). With the help of the membership committee, we also welcomed new members to LWV PBC!
Know the Facts
The Immigration Committee Informative Series
Immigration has shaped American history and is a fundamental part of our social fabric. Yet, popular discourse has painted international migration as a growing concern, evoking all sorts of anti-immigrant sentiments. Consequently, many of us are divided between appreciating and fearing what immigration represents. The Immigration Committee is working on a series of informative posts about contemporary immigration challenges. We invite you to learn more about immigration myths and facts. This month’s post is about immigration and crime.
MYTH: Immigrants in the U.S. increase crime
As of 2017, according to Gallup polls, almost half of Americans believed that immigrants make crime worse. Is it true that immigration drives crime? Many studies have shown that it does not.1
FACT: Immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born Americans
A vast majority of studies have confirmed that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than people who are native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized.1,3,4
- Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate (aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder) declined 48 percent and the property crime rate (motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary) fell 41 percent.2
- In a large-scale collaboration by four universities, researchers compared immigration rates with crime rates for 200 metropolitan areas over the last several decades. According to data from the study, a large majority of the areas have many more immigrants today than they did in 1980 and fewer violent crimes. In general, the study’s data suggest either that immigration has the effect of reducing average crime or that there is simply no relationship between the two.1
- Even a report that expressed some concerns about immigrant crime cautioned readers about making assumptions. In a report published by The Center for Immigration Studies, the authors noted that, “[in] conclusion, we find that it would be a mistake to assume that immigrants as a group are more prone to crime than other groups, or that they should be viewed with more suspicion than others.”3
- It is also important to note that data on immigrants and crime can be influenced by the fact that immigrants have the stigma of “criminality” ascribed to them by an ever-evolving assortment of laws and immigration-enforcement mechanisms. Whole new classes of “felonies” have been created which apply only to immigrants, deportation has become a punishment for even minor offenses, and policies aimed at trying to end unauthorized immigration have been made more punitive.1
The focus on detention has exacerbated the border crisis, and not taking action to assure that immigrant petitions are examined diligently, fairly, and in a timely fashion will only augment the issue. Therefore, the League of Women Voters believes that Congress must pass “immigration policies that end the crisis at our border, end the separation of families, and provide a path to citizenship.”