Why do immigrants come to the United States ? Why don’t some immigrants come here legally?

One of the primary reasons certain immigrants come to the United States in an undocumented manner is due to the many systemic barriers of our current broken immigration system. Immigrants arrive undocumented because there is an enormous wait or “visa backlog” that prevents them from reunifying with family members currently living in the United States in a timely fashion. Depending on the country of origin, some family members might have to wait for more than a decade before their visa is processed and for family reunification to occur. Some immigrants arrive at our borders as they are fleeing persecution and seeking protection and cannot safely live in their home countries. Most recently we have seen this in the case of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which have some of the highest murder and crime rates in the world. Lastly some immigrants come to work to support their families but are unable to get a proper work visa because in our current broken immigration system the number of visas for low-wage workers cannot match demand for such workers. As a result, as many as 300,000 undocumented people each year are absorbed into the U.S. workforce.

Do the bishops support open borders?

The U.S. bishops and the teachings of the Catholic Church have consistently respected the right of the sovereign state to control its borders – it functions as one of the principles in their pastoral letter Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope. However, the Church, along with other members of civil society, has the right to work to change laws which are believed to violate basic human dignity, imbued by the Creator. In the case of immigration, the U.S. bishops believe that the broken U.S. immigration system unjustly separates families, denies due process and contributes to the exploitation of immigrant workers in the workplace.

Do immigrants increase the crime rate?

Recently published research has shown that immigrant communities do not increase the crime rate and that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than native born Americans. Although the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States tripled from 3.5 million to 11 million between 1990 and 2013, the corresponding violent crime rate declined by 48%. This was matched by a 41% reduction in property crime over the same period.

Do immigrants pay taxes?

Undocumented immigrants pay a wide range of taxes, including sales taxes where applicable. They also pay property taxes, directly if they own their homes and indirectly if they rent. Between one half and three quarters of undocumented immigrants pay state and federal taxes. In fact, estimates state that undocumented immigrants pay an estimated 11.64 billion dollars every year in state and local taxes.


Last Updated: 1/8/17