44 of 57 people found the following review helpful
What a timely and important book. Aviva Chomsky takes on what she believes are the 21 most common misperceptions about immigrants. She looks at economic objections such as the claims that immigrants drain the economy, take away jobs and drive down wages; legal ones such as the claim that the U.S. already as a too-generous refugee policy; racial ones such as the claim that immigrants threaten our national identity and won't learn English; and security ones such as the claim that immigrants make us particularly susceptible to terrorist attacks.
The interesting thing about these misperceptions is that they all have a ring of plausibility, and it's to Chomsky's credit that she takes them seriously enough to examine them in detail. Moreover, her examination isn't a simplistic "no, that's wrong" kind of approach. One of the best qualities of her treatment is that she helps the reader to put claims about immigration into a broader context.
For example, Chomsky points out that while it's true that real wages for laborers are dropping in this country, it isn't because immigrants are driving them down. It's because of the last few years' general flow of wealth in the U.S. towards the top, which is leaving almost everyone except the very wealthiest in the lurch. Or what about the misperception that immigrants won't assimilate into our culture and hence are jeopardizing our national identity? Chomsky offers statistics that show that immigrants of color in fact do try to assimilate just as much as white ones, but that assimilation for them is complicated by the fact that it almost always means "downward mobility."
Chomsky's book is clearly written from a progressive viewpoint, and her conclusions, I'm sure, will anger many. But her book is valuable because it invites a more reflective dialogue about immigration than we've had in this country for a long time--and certain since 9/11. With presidential elections coming up, that dialogue is even more important.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
I suppose my main problem with this book comes down to a question of semantics. The book proposes to expose a number of popular statements about immigration as "myths." Although the author accomplishes this in some cases, in others, whether or not the statement is a myth is barely addressed, or not addressed at all.
For example, Myth 19 states that "countries need to control who goes in and out." The author proceeds to fill the chapter with a history of the United States' attemps to control the numbers of racial minorities in the country, particularly by means of sterilization of Native and African Americans and Puerto Ricans(i.e., not immigrants, ironically). I assume the author is implying that #19 is merely and always a smokescreen for racism, neither something that anyone could ever legitimately believe nor something that ever plays any part whatsoever in immigration considerations, because whether countries actually do or do not need to control who goes in and out is never discussed at all. In other words, Chomsky is calling something a myth without actually providing evidence that it is a myth, i.e., not true.
Basically, the author does not intend to prove some ideas as untrue so much as implicitly claim that the ideas are (presumably always) a product of racism and/or the First World's grab for money and power.
A few parts of the book were just ridiculous appeals to emotion - or, I hope that's what is was meant to be, because it certainly did not appeal to logic. At one or two points, Chomsky writes that immigrants are penalized "just for existing." No, they're penalized for existing in an illegal status. Border Patrol or whoever is not going to come after them while they are "existing" outside of its jurisdiction. Denying citizens' rights to immigrants is repeatedly referred to as "discriminatory," without appropriate further comment, ignoring the fact that the whole purpose of the law, particularly immigration law, is to discriminate (i.e. Observe and act on difference between) citizens and non-citizens. Suggesting that countries should extend the benefits of citizens to non-citizens (beyond basic human rights) calls into question the very nature of the country itself as an acceptable unit of the world at large, but this was not addressed. Without addressing the concept of countries (units of people governed by some sort of body that is accountable to them PRIMARILY, for example), saying immigration law discriminates is merely saying that immigration law does what it was designed to do. The author clearly has a problem with this discrimination, but fails to adequately explain why it is wrong, instead relying on the thoughtless liberal trick of equating "discrimination" in a general sense with the racial, sexual, etc. discrimination that has been taken to task over the course of U.S. history. That is too say, the book was too simplistic to adequately take on some issues satisfactorily.
Aside from the author not quite discussing what is proposed for discussion, the book was interesting, albeit mainly as a series of history and global economy lessons. I skipped a few of the middle chapters, whose "myths" were actually just plainly obvious xenophobia.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2012
This was a great book. I was hooked from the first page and although I got this book just to see what other people were righting on the subject, I was surprised to learn so many things other researchers don't delve into. Racism is something people like to shy away from, or when they do discuss it, they use vague and delicate terms so as not to offend anyone. Racism often cuts a little too close to home for many people, and authors usually don't wish to offend their readers. This book attacks racism with historical proof and the insight that hundreds of years worth of experience, and the paper trail to prove it can give someone, if they're willing to take the incredible amounts of time to sift through the mountains of information there is to be examined. Aviva is a thorough researcher and knows how to present her findings to make the subject both informative and moving. My eyes have been opened to a greater vocabulary needed in the conversation that is our immigration legacy.
27 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Let me state upfront a couple of things: I am one of those immigrants, I have been a 20+ years green card holder, coming over from Belgium in the mid-80s (and working to become a US citizen in the near future); and I look at things from both a pro-business perspective, and a practical perspective.
In "Take Take Our Jobs! and 20 Other Myths about Immigration" (264 pages), author Aviva Chomsky (an outspoken advocate of immigrants' rights, primarily illegal immigrants) tackles an issue that has become an emotional issue and examines the past and today. Even though I disagree with a few of the basic premises the author has about America in general (such as it being a white Anglo-saxon society bent on imposing its will on other countries), I do agree with the author's premise that (i) immigration is a good thing for the country as a whole, even if it is "illegal" in certain aspects and (ii) immigration policy has been a mess. Let's be honest: we're not going to expell 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. For one, they do jobs nobody else wants to do, and for another, it's completely impractical, if not impossible. The other aspect is that we desperatly need more legal immigrants from places like India and China, filling gaps that we have in the business community, as there are simply not enough US college grads for the needs we have. Let's face it, we are not primarily a manufacturing society anymore, but a service soceity. The current quotas for such immigrants are woefully inadequate, and are hurting our economy.
Our congressional leaders, make that "leaders", in Washington have done a horrible job in addressing this issue. President Bush has tried to make some sense of it, and was shut down, primarily by his own party no less! Back to the book, the author brings a lot of interesting historical perspectives, and the last part of the book "The Debate At the Turn of the Millenium" is the best part of the book, even if I dont always agree with her. This is the type of book that should be required reading for HS juniors and seniors, and college students as well. This is an important issue, and this book provides a good addition to the debate, regardless whether one agrees 100% with the author's viewpoint.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2015
Bought this book for an undergraduate book project. I put the assignment off until 1 week before it was due and reluctantly picked up the book. However, once I picked it up I was unable to put it down. Aviva Chomsky really highlights the current issues people take with illegal immigration and offers some very interesting counter-arguments. While I didn't agree with everything she had to say, I did find this book to be an excellent read and a way to look at things from another perspective. I highly recommend reading this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2015
I'm surprised this book is doing worse in ratings than "Undocumented". I'm working on a project about immigration and I've found this book, by far, to be the most incisive in arguing the progressive stance (which I freely admit is my stance). I mean there's a timeline... the works. I also want to point out that one of the 1 star reviews is from someone who quite literally thinks this is an anti-immigration book. Anyway if you're interested in immigration this is a great place to start.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2013
The book is explosive and current. The topic covered is in the news daily and quite controversial; on the one hand this is a country of immigrants. On the other hand, there are states and cultures that, while they depend on the inexpensive labor afforded by undocumented aliens, they resent the labor and accuse these people of taking away jobs from U.S. citizens. Yet, many U.S. citizens do not want to work under those conditions and for that pay; so, are they really our jobs?
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2012
Professor Chomsky of "They Take Our Jobs" posits 21 "myths" about immigration, and then attempts to debunk them. Unfortunately, her cognitive bias, poor logic, and lack of critical thinking eventually undermine her main arguments. This causes the reader to be wary of her other arguments and positions, even though some of them have validity. Her views are clearly clouded by her fixed ideological presumptions about what nation states are and how they should act, by her assumption that all capitalism is bad and necessarily exploitive, and that all workers and poor people are saintly.
She provides many references on racism and its effects on immigration and other laws that casual readers may be unaware of. Our nation's founders thought the definition of "citizen" meant white, male, and property owner because that was the social view of the time. We should all be aware of this knowledge because it provides both historical and current evidence that is helpful in understanding views on immigration, legal or illegal. Chomsky also explains the historical aspects of immigration policy in the United States by citing the ever changing regulations that reflected current thought at the time of each change. As other critics have pointed out, however, she fails to put any of this information in historical perspective. She assumes that whatever racist or political considerations on immigration were operative in the past are necessarily operative today without crediting any attitudinal changes that have occurred.
The author organizes her book into 21 immigration "myths," but some of them are paper tigers that are only listed to be easily swatted down and others that she not only fails to counter, but actually ends up proving that the "myth" is mostly true. For example, myth #3 is "Unions oppose immigration because it harms the working class." However the entire chapter is devoted to numerous citations proving the anti-immigration policies of all major unions. Only in the final paragraph does she note that the AFL-CIO decided in the 1990's that its own survival as a union required reaching out to immigrant workers and therefore liberalized the union's official position on immigration. Since Chomsky and her more famous father, Noam, are self-professed anarcho-syndicalists (advocates of revolutionary unionism to facilitate worker control of society) this chapter is all the more amazing for what it does not prove.
Myth #18, "Countries need to control who goes in and out," gives little discussion to the concept that virtually every country in the world has immigration policies as a function of exactly why a nation exists as a state entity - to control what happens in that geographic area. Chomsky argues the opposite, and thinks immigrants should be allowed to settle wherever and whenever they choose because the only reason anyone immigrates at all is due to poverty in their home country as a result of being exploited by First World (developed) countries. She dismisses immigration by foreign terrorists because "most historical acts of terror in the US has been by environmental extremists."
Myth #4, "Immigrants don't pay taxes," and Myth #5, "Immigrants are a drain on the economy," are connected. Of course immigrants, even illegal ones, pay some taxes. And, there is no doubt that recent illegal immigrants are a great utilizer of social services (even though Chomsky tries to hide this fact by combining service utilization of ALL immigrants). By the author's own statistics, however illegal immigrants' taxes only cover about 75% of the cost of social services, especially those provided by the states. And those social service costs don't include the common costs of libraries, parks, schools, and other taxpayer funded services. If they were included, the economic burden of illegal immigrants would be much greater. Chomsky cites a couple of state studies on the economic costs of illegal immigration, but says absolutely nothing about the statistics from the economiclly hardest hit states of the southwest and Florida. Economic effects of immigration are not uniform for all states. Again, cognitive bias (exclude all information that runs counter to your argument).
One could go on and on with academic criticism of this book. Chomsky's assumptions that all Anglo-Saxon culture is racist and exploitive, that our goal should be global economic equity, that all immigration stems from lack of economic equity due to exploitation by the developed world, and that all illegal immigrants should have full rights of citizenship in the country they immigrate to, exposes her admittedly Marxist-type view and ends up undermining even her legitimate points.
I would instead recommend the book "Arguing Immigration" as a more balanced view on the immigration debate, forsaking the usual liberal-conservative fixed positions on the issue.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2015
The author takes each one of these shallow one liners, usually used by shallow minded people, and provides facts and solid arguments disproving each and every one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2015
I used this book as a source for a college paper. Very clear usable information.