2011's Top Five Immigration Myths

December 19, 2011 1:11 pm ET — Salvatore Colleluori

As the 2012 GOP presidential primary race continues and as fallout over state-based anti-immigrant laws occurs, anti-immigration rhetoric has heated up on both the state and national level, with public figures perpetuating a number of myths that previously circulated primarily among xenophobic organizations. Political Correction has rounded up this year's top five myths about immigration, and a closer look at these myths shows what you might expect — that they're based in expedient political rhetoric and not on facts.

MYTH: There Is Widespread Voter Fraud Due To Undocumented Immigrants Voting

Despite cries from conservatives that rampant non-citizen voting is plaguing U.S. elections, voter fraud is actually an extraordinarily small phenomenon. Investigations into the issue have turned up virtually no evidence of a widespread voter fraud problem, with many of the instances of non-citizen voting turning out to be accidents by people unaware that what they were doing was improper.

MYTH: The Obama Administration Is Granting "Amnesty" To Some Undocumented Immigrants By Choosing Not To Deport Them

Conservatives have begun calling the Obama administration's deportation strategy — known as prosecutorial discretion — a form of "amnesty." But the prosecutorial discretion doesn't grant undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship; instead, it is utilized by law enforcement officials to focus available resources on prosecuting and removing high-priority criminals. Saving resources to deal with those who cause the most harm to Americans while not wasting money going after college students and veterans is smart enforcement, not amnesty.

MYTH: We Need To Totally Secure The Border By Building A Fence

Anti-immigrant hawks often push for the U.S. to erect a fence across the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Not only have all three past and current Department of Homeland Security Secretaries agreed that making the border completely airtight is impossible, but in addition estimates have found that building a fence would cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

MYTH: Deporting All Undocumented Immigrants Would Help The Economy

Mass deportations have been a common theme at the GOP presidential primary debates, with proponents of the idea such as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) suggesting that deportations will benefit the economy. On the contrary, mass deportations would negatively affect the economy, costing billions of dollars a year in lost gross domestic product as well as millions of jobs. In addition, detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants would be costly to American taxpayers.

MYTH: In-State Tuition Benefits Are Useless Giveaways Because Undocumented Immigrants Don't Contribute To Economy

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has gotten harsh criticism from anti-immigrant advocates and his fellow presidential contenders for defending Texas' law granting in-state tuition benefits to undocumented students, even though the policy makes economic sense. Undocumented immigrants already pay taxes and contribute to the economy. By attending college, undocumented immigrants generate revenue for the schools they attend, and they will eventually be able to contribute more to the economy since college degree-holders' "lifetime earnings are nearly double those of someone with only a high school diploma."

To read our full fact check, click HERE.

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