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Expert Alert

U of M expert says the "immigration crisis" is of our own making

July 8, 2010

As the illegal immigration debate heated up this week with the announcement of a federal lawsuit against Arizona’s new immigration law, the nation appears poised for a longer debate leading into this year’s campaign season. A University of Minnesota expert who can help dissect the current rhetoric surrounding the illegal immigration debate is:

Katherine Fennelly, professor of public affairs, University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

Fennelly says the “immigration crisis” is of our own making. “A shortage of visas for needed workers increases the numbers of undocumented workers and related problems of human trafficking and false documents,” Fennelly says. “If visas were adjusted to meet needs, much of the 'crisis' would be reduced.”

The crisis is further fueled by a rampant spread of myths about immigration, she says. Fennelly has compiled a list of “Ten Myths About Immigrants” to highlight the most prevalent misconceptions:

1. Most immigrants come to the United States for economic motives
2. Most immigrants live in cities
3. Immigrants today ‘don’t assimilate’ as rapidly as those who came in the 1900’s
4. Anti-immigrant attitudes are new and increasing
5. Immigrants are less educated and less skilled than U.S.-born residents
6. Immigration hurts the economy
7. Immigrants ‘cost more than they contribute’
8. Most immigrants are undocumented
9. Immigrants are less healthy than U.S.-born residents
10. Immigrants commit more crimes than U.S.-born residents

For a presentation addressing these issues, go to and click on the "SLIDE SHOW: Ten Myths About Immigration" link under "Selected Writings."

Fennelly’s research and outreach interests include leadership in the public sector, the human rights of immigrants and refugees in the United States, and the preparedness of communities and public institutions to adapt to demographic changes. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and has worked and traveled extensively throughout Latin America.

To interview Fennelly, contact Anne Mason at (612) 625-9436 or; or Jeff Falk at (612) 626-1720 or

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Humphrey School of Public Affairs

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