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Judging by political rhetoric alone, you might think immigration is a bigger issue now than ever before. But in his book, Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization and America, Alvaro Vargas Llosa argues that immigration rates have stayed fairly steady throughout the centuries.

His book broadens the historical context of the immigration debate, and seeks to answer some contentious questions about why people risk their lives to come to America.

We spoke to Vargas Llosa this week about some commonly-held immigration myths. We also asked him about what LGBTQ marriage equality means for international couples, and how the status quo fosters tension between immigrants and African Americans.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects.