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Clearing Up Misinformation on Immigration
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 5, 2021


Clearing Up Misinformaton About Immigration

By Peggy Sands Orchowski

On May 3, my local paper like many in the country, published a series of photographs of hundreds of advocates marching on May 1 in Washington DC for illegal immigration. The accompanying articles were full of misinformation from the event that insinuated that citizenship is a right for any foreign national in the country no matter their legal status. The reporters and editors like the advocates, conflated into one, important differences between immigration statuses established by law. That spins and confuses the immigration issue. Not acknowledging differences is a dereliction of journalism duty.


I am a fully credentialed congressional journalist who has covered immigration for almost twenty years for Hispanic magazines.  I have written two books about the evolution of immigration laws and politics in the United States. Here briefly are the critical differences in the five groups referred to in the photo article:

  • "11 million undocumented" immigrants".  Foreign nationals living and working without authorization in the United States are referred to in immigration laws as "illegal aliens" (I have heard Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor refer to them as such).  But the politically correct obedient press calls them "undocumented". That is disingenuous. Most illegal immigrants have documents – mostly fraudulent including green cards and social security cards easily bought for less than $100.

Two facts: 1) For the past 10 years the number 11 million has never changed – which is suspicious.Some experts say the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. currently is over 20 million.   2) Increasingly, illegal immigrants have not snuck over the southern border but came in legally (as visitors and foreign students and the like). They then choose to break the law by overstaying their temporary authorizations putting them in illegal status. Advocates demand citizenship for them.


  • DACA recipients are about 580,000 illegal immigrants, mostly in their 20s, who before they hit 30 years old individually applied for and were accepted into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Obama's created in 2012 via an  executive memo. It grants most any foreign national who can prove they came into the U.S. before the age of 16, have been here for five years, and are presently in illegal status, a temporary waiver from deportation and a two year renewable work permit. DACA is NOT a law and does NOT  grant "legal" immigration status – only a temporary waiver from deportation. DACA recipients could be called  "documented (undocumented) illegal immigrants"
  • DREAMers are some 4 million illegal immigrants who might qualify for some kind of legalization depending on what version of the DREAM Act -- Direct Relief and Education for Alien Minors  -- passes into law. If ever. The bar keeps lowering for eligibility. Senate leader Chuck Schumer's 2021 DREAM Act would give legal status to any foreign national who "entered or came into the United States before the age of 18 four years before the bill is signed into law, is currently in illegal status, with no age limit to apply. It can be seen as encouraging temporary visas holders to overstay.    

NOTE: no DREAM Act proposal has ever limited DREAMer eligibility to illegal immigrants who "were brought into the country illegally by their parents at an early age".None of those words appear in any DREAMer proposal although the press and the media continually describes DREAMers as such.


  • UAMs (Unaccompanied Minor Aliens) include the 200,000 plus "minors" who have surged over the Mexican border in 2021 and are being released into the United States most without covid19 checks. The vast majority are older teenagers. Even Biden administrators acknowledge that almost all of their claims for asylum will not be approved. But they allow them to stay for their court dates which are often years in the future.  It is expected most will not show up.


  • TPSers -- There are some 2 million "Temporary Protective Status" permit holders -- who are LEGALLY in the country on time limited non-immigration permits. They were supposed to be allowed to stay only until conditions in their countries improved, but many have renewed the status for over a decade. The issue is whether to give all or some of these legal temporary immigrants the right to get a green card granting Permanent Legal Status which could lead to citizenship if they choose.   


Refugees, Asylees, Migrants and Immigrants are also distinct groups that need to be distinguished in the press. Their differences are crucial to understanding immigration, but not complicated.  Will explain next posting.


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“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

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Name: Peggy Sands Orchowski
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