Much has been said and written about the negative effect of undocumented (or illegal, the moniker some like to use) immigrants on our nation’s economy, social security system, health care, security and so on. Much of it is false hyperbole used to generate fear among us and stop logical discussion. Following are some actual facts to help erode the banks of ignorance by debunking some of the biggest myths that are out there.
- According to the Social Security Administration, undocumented immigrants are
now providing the Social Security system with a subsidy of $7-8 billion a year. This is because, although they contribute billions of dollars annually, immigrants are not eligible for Medicare, receive no public pensions in retirement, and are not entitled to any other benefits. Furthermore, Many older workers return home to retire because cost of living is so much cheaper in their native land. Furthermore, Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal public assistance programs such as food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, housing assistance, federal student financial aid, unemployment insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and Aid for families with dependent children.
How about healthcare? We often hear a lot about how undocumented immigrants are bankrupting our healthcare system and overcrowding our emergency rooms. Here are some facts.
- According to the American Journal of Public Health & Center for Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, immigrants pay $1.5 million annually to Medicare payroll taxes, and most pay health insurance premiums, though they receive only half as much care as native-born Americans. In addition, these immigrants tend to be much younger than the rest of the American cross section and, therefore, don’t need to use the system as much. The facts state that 84% of undocumented immigrants are 18-to-44-year-olds vs. 60% of that age bracket among legal residents.
Are undocumented immigrants causing a drain on our economy? According to many credible sources, they are not; on the contrary, they are helping it.
- According to Business Week, Undocumented immigrants have become a new source of economic growth as giant U.S. consumer companies aggressively market undocumented customers; resulting in a surge to the U.S. gross national product. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants pay income and property taxes, easing the tax burden for others when it comes to paying for schools, health care, roads, and other services. Since undocumented immigrants cannot file tax returns, they cannot be refunded for the taxes they paid, so federal and local governments get to keep this entire amount.
One of the most vociferous charges against undocumented immigrants is that they are stealing good jobs that could be done by unemployed Americans. Let’s check this out.
- According to the Pew Research Center, undocumented immigrants are 25% of workers in the meat and poultry industry, 24% of dishwashers, and 27% of drywall and ceiling tile installers. These statistics do not include the workers in the construction, yard maintenance, house cleaning, child and senior care industries, but undocumented workers largely perform these jobs. The agriculture community depends on undocumented workers virtually in its entirety. Imagine that, the vegetable and fruits on our tables got there because an undocumented immigrant picked it. The bottom line is that only undocumented immigrants affect only 2.9% of the American workforce. Simply put, Americans don’t want these jobs. Case in point, all 58 California counties placed ads for agricultural workers and not one US citizen (except night time show host Steven Colbert) applied.
Finally, we get to the argument about how undocumented immigrants affect National Security. I am not going to delve into the many studies that have been made about the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on detaining and deporting non-violent immigrants. I am not going to mention the number of deaths in the areas of heavy border security that are mainly caused by the exploitation of smugglers. I am not going to bring up the destruction of families or the number of undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic crimes but do not report them. I am just going to concentrate on the following.
- The largest terrorist attacks on American soil were done on 9/11/2001, yet, not a single terrorists entered the country via the US/Mexico border. In fact, none of them came from the seven countries identified by the Trump Administration Muslim Ban (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen). Fifteen of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and the others were from the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt, and Lebanon. Not one of the strategies being considered today to help stop terrorism would have worked in stopping the 9/11 attacks. This proves once again that people who aim to do evil will find a way around what others put in place to stop it.
Immigrants are a big plus for our country. Our history shows that immigrants have helped to make this country great. These times are no different and they call for us to come together and offer a solution that is both effective and humane.I am not arguing to do nothing about stopping those who want to enter our country illegally. On the contrary, I am arguing for a more comprehensive solution to the problem than just building a wall on our southern border and deporting individuals. These types of solutions that were included in SB 744 that was passed by the US Senate in 2013 and why I argue should be revisited.
Also published on Medium.