Currently, 67% of Americans say they don`t see granting legal status to immigrants in the U.S. illegally as a reward, while only 27% say it a reward for unauthorized immigrants if they`ve done something wrong. To a large extent, this way of thinking has taken root because it has been adopted by immigrant advocates. The same organizations that used to denounce the term “illegal alien” and rightly emphasize the “undocumented worker” bent have been so defensive in today`s anti-immigrant environment that they have accepted a simple-minded formula – “illegal, evil, good legal immigrant.” Although they have now spoken out against efforts like CLEAR, these immigrant advocates have helped lay the groundwork for the false premise that these two groups can be easily distinguished and separated. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) releases this quarterly report, which describes legal immigration and details the number of adjustments to immigration status. The Bureau of Immigration Statistics (OIS) developed this report by disaggregating data for the reporting period by type of adjustment, type and category of detailed admission, and country of citizenship. Young people are also more likely to say that most immigrants living in the U.S. are here legally. Almost six in ten (58%) of 18- to 29-year-olds say this is the case, while only about a third (35%) of those over 65 say the same.

Of those who know that most immigrants to the U.S. are here legally, a large majority of 77 percent say undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit serious crimes than U.S. citizens. In contrast, a smaller proportion of those who believe most immigrants are here illegally (53%) say undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit serious crimes. Like other attitudes toward immigrants and immigration, views about immigrants` willingness to assimilate have become more positive over the past decade, with the biggest shift occurring among Democrats. Immigrants have made countless contributions to the American economy and society. However, current legislation limits millions of them to living in the shadows, without the right to participate fully in the economy or to have access to basic social protection. Such treatment harms the unauthorized immigrants themselves and their families — many of whom are U.S. citizens and non-legal citizens — as well as the economy as a whole. But if such proposals are so impractical, why are they at the heart of the current debate? First, the deceptively simple distinction between illegal and legal immigrants allows us to dissolve our historical ambivalence toward all immigrants, albeit in bad faith. As it appeared in Congress earlier this spring, this false dichotomy allows us to attribute all the problems of mass migration to illegals and all virtues to the legal.

Politicians mistakenly assume that attacking the former will not cost them the support of the latter. Yet about twice as many Republicans (33%) as Democrats (16%) support reducing legal immigration to the United States. Even among Republicans, there are age differences in views on legal immigration. Among Republicans 50 and older, 39 percent support reducing legal immigration, compared with 27 percent of younger Republicans. Unlike Democrats, however, there are no significant ideological differences among Republicans in these views. The ongoing debate over such policies also allows immigrant advocates to walk on high – and safe – moral ground without addressing more fundamental and difficult issues. Of course, immigrant advocates are right to criticize CLEAR, proposals that unfairly and shamelessly target illegals. But the restrictionists who push these simplistic ideas have themselves become easy targets for their pro-immigration critics. The result is a largely false debate. Family reunification has long played a central role in the U.S.

immigration system, more so than in other major receiving countries. (Family migration accounts for about 40% of total permanent immigration to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.) While the proportion varies from year to year, about two-thirds of legal immigration to the U.S. is based on family ties, while the rest is divided between employment-based and humanitarian immigration and those arriving via the green card lottery (also known as diversity visas). In 2015, the percentage of Americans who say they grant legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. was. Illegal is like “rewarding” them for misconduct that has diminished. Since 2001, the proportion of Americans who support an increase in legal immigration to the United States has increased by 22 percentage points (from 10% to 32%), while the proportion supporting a decline has dropped by 29 percentage points (from 53% to 24%). In addition to employment opportunities, data from previous legalizations in the U.S. and other countries suggest that legalization also encourages immigrants to improve their language skills, pushes them to pursue additional education and training, and improves their health outcomes, making them more productive members of society. For example, data collected in Germany show that faster access to citizenship has led migrant women to improve their language skills and increase their job retention. In a study of U.S. teens born into the same immigrant families — but whose legal status varies depending on the country in which they were born — unauthorized immigrants were about 2.6 percentage points less likely to be enrolled in school.

In addition, evidence from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and DACA shows that these reforms increased the education of previously unauthorized immigrants. Finally, a recent economic study also suggests that DACA recipients have experienced improved physical and mental health, which contributes to increased productivity. Comparisons between the income of authorized and non-authorized immigrants suggest that limited employment opportunities lead to misallocation of talent, which reduces productivity. It is estimated that unauthorized immigrants earn about 40% less per hour than native-born workers and about 35% less per hour than legal immigrants. Many of these differences can be explained by differences in average qualifications, as measured by educational attainment; However, after adjusting for these and other demographic differences, this study continues to find a significant “wage penalty” for unauthorized workers, ranging from 4% to 24% of their hourly wage. In addition, we believe that there is no wage penalty for unauthorized immigrants compared to similar legal immigrants within the same occupation and industry, suggesting that the penalty is due to the fact that they are limited to low-paying jobs. [5] The new survey, conducted largely before the U.S.-Mexico border crisis, in which immigrant children were separated from their parents, reveals deep and persistent partisan divisions in a range of anti-immigrant attitudes, as well as widespread public misperceptions about the proportion of the immigrant population in the United States.