10 Misconceptions About U.S. Immigration

Immigrants Take American Jobs
A Mexican immigrant arranges fruit in a convenience store in New York City. One study showed immigrants bettered the earnings of native-born Americans. Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

One of the more persistent misconceptions about immigration today is that immigrants are stealing jobs from Americans. Yet if you take a good look, you'll quickly see that immigrants are often working at jobs such as dishwasher, gardener, housekeeper, maid — low-paying grunt jobs, typically without benefits, that many American citizens spurn. Immigrants take these jobs because they really want to work.

A study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found 86 percent of first-generation male immigrants were employed, a higher rate than that of native-borns (83 percent). Even 84 percent of male immigrants without a high school education had jobs, compared with just 58 percent of native-born Americans [source: Guo].

In addition, innumerable studies soundly refute this notion of immigrants stealing jobs. A 2012 study by The Brookings Institution found immigrants actually better the earnings of native-born Americans because the two groups tend to be employed in complementary fields. For example, immigrant roofers and gardeners can help American builders and landscapers land more business and expand their companies [source: Greenstone and Looney]. And the U.S. Small Business Administration found immigrants are more entrepreneurial than natives. One in 10 immigrants is a business owner, and 620 of every 100,000 immigrants starts a business each month [source: Fairlie].

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