Thursday, April 22, 2010

Immigration Can Help Us


By Bill Chandler

We should be welcoming immigrants to Mississippi, the ”Hospitality State.”

Instead of having xenophobic reactions, we should be looking at the benefits they bring to our economy. In recent years Republican and Democrats alike have called for kicking immigrants out of Mississippi. Legislators introduced scores of bills intended to make immigrants so uncomfortable they’ll leave. Some law enforcement jurisdictions have made it their mission to target Latinos without provocation. Candidates for public offices have made attacking immigrants the centerpieces of their campaigns. One candidate attempted to show that the presence of immigrants cost the state millions, in his publicly funded reports mostly based on false statistics gathered from a notorious hate group.

The facts paint a different picture of the contributions of immigrants. For example, the worlds’ dominant economy, and one of the richest, is the United States—a country populated almost entirely by immigrants and their descendants. The U.S. population has more than doubled over the last century, yet the country has become wealthier and wealthier.

A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences found that undocumented immigrants added some $10 billion to the U.S. economy. The NAS study also found that native-born workers whose skills were complimentary to those of immigrants, benefited from their presence in their workplaces. Immigrants’ paychecks have the same deductions for income taxes as their fellow native born workers. Their payroll deductions also contribute to the Social Security fund helping to create a multi-billion dollar surplus that they have no hope to access, which has helped save that system from collapse.

Census data shows that the Latino share of Mississippi’s population grew from 0.6% in 1990, to 1.4% in 2000, and since then, growth of these communities in the state has at least doubled. Across the state, workers with the mississippi immigrant rights alliance counted at least 100,000 more immigrants in the state than were accounted for in the census, and by last year, at least another 100,000 more. While some of these immigrants may be undocumented, overstaying their work visas or entering without authorization, many eventually become U.S. citizens as shown by voter data. Latinos comprised 4% of Mississippi voters in the 2008 elections, according to CNN exit polls.

In Mississippi, Asians and Latinos as consumers, workers and business owners have helped grow our economy. According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, in 2008, the purchasing power of Latinos in Mississippi totaled $1.3 billion, while the purchasing power of Asians was $842 million – with the continued growth in working immigrant communities, here and across the country these numbers have undoubtedly grown. Mississippi’s 1,326 Latino-owned businesses had sales receipts of $213 million and provided jobs to 2,080 workers in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 2,921 Asian owned firms had sales and receipts of $1.2 billion and provided jobs to 9,232 workers, according to the Census Bureau.

The kinds of jobs immigrants typically do, the so called “3-D”—dirty, difficult and dangerous: agricultural, food processing, day labor, cleaning offices and hotel rooms—are jobs which native born workers are conditioned to reject. Further, with the growing proportion of our youth opting for cleaner, white-collar work through education, far fewer workers are available for the 3-D jobs.

Instead of deporting immigrants we should welcome them and give them a clear path to citizenship. The American public will benefit from the full movement of undocumented workers into the economy. Legalizing immigrant workers will generate tax revenue which will provide an important boost to cash-strapped state and local governments. Legalizing undocumented workers would also eliminate unscrupulous employers’ ability to exploit immigrant’s vulnerability. It would raise American worker’s wages and working conditions by putting all workers on equal footing.

The homage to xenophobia itself jeopardizes our economy. Mississippi calls itself the “Hospitality State.” We should adhere to our slogan and be welcoming to our new residents—we all benefit by their presence and their industry.
Bill Chandler is Executive Director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA).
Copyright (C) 2010 by the Mississippi Forum 3/10


Brittanicus said...

What Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has to say about Amnesty and Tax-Dollar Drain,

Lamar Smith is the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Outside of the usual articles from Bloggers like myself and other opponents of illegal immigration, here is a very eye-opening correspondence by an insider of the Washington beltway. While others fudge the truth or downright lie or release rancid propaganda to the masses. Here are some bitter truths that this Representative from Texas is availing us of the ugly truth and the calamitous situation sending us into a black bottomless pit of American bankruptcy.

Rep. Lamar Smith states:

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been talking about giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Tax Day seems like a good time to examine the impact that such a policy would have on your wallet.

Start with education. Using the average annual American public school elementary and secondary education costs, the Federation for American Immigration Reform has estimated that the total cost of K-12 education for illegal immigrant minors and the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants is $28.6 billion a year.

Then there’s health care. If illegal immigrants are covered in the health care bill (there is not a strong verification mechanism to ensure they won’t get benefits), it would increase the bill’s costs between $10-$30 billion. Of course, it won’t matter if illegal immigrants receive amnesty since the new law requires health care coverage for everyone.

Social Security is another area of great concern. Claims by amnesty advocates that illegal immigration can “save” Social Security are false.

Brittanicus said...

Last year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) ran the numbers at my request. Here’s what they found: For a single 25-year old male with very low earnings, today’s value of his and his employer’s contributions to the Trust Fund will fall $15,596 short of the value of the Social Security retirement benefits he will eventually receive. A single female will receive $20,936 more in benefits than she pays into Social Security. If the immigrant is married but the sole wage-earner, the couple will eventually drain the Trust Fund by $52,460; if the immigrant is married to another very low earner, the drain on the trust fund will be $39,037. The legalization of one million illegal immigrant couples who work for very low wages would be a $101 billion blow to taxpayers. And amnesty for all illegal immigrants would multiply this figure many times!

When it comes to taxes, amnesty supporters like to say that illegal immigrants will pay their “fair share” of taxes after being granted amnesty. This is deceptive.

Low-skilled workers often pay no taxes and receive a check from the Internal Revenue Service in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Putting illegal immigrants on the IRS rolls will actually cost the federal government money.

Since most illegal immigrants have less than a high school education and have well below average incomes, even those illegal immigrants who pay taxes pay far less in taxes than they (and their families) consume in taxpayer-supported benefits. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation found that the average immigrant household headed by an immigrant without a high school degree receives over $19,000 more in total government benefits each year than it pays in federal, state and local taxes!

But the impact goes far beyond these direct costs.

There are nearly 16 million Americans out of work, and about 8 million jobs are held by illegal immigrants. By simply enforcing immigration laws already on the books, we could create millions of job opportunities for American citizens and legal immigrants who played by the rules and entered the U.S. the right way.

Instead, the Obama administration has all but abandoned worksite enforcement efforts. Administrative arrests are down 87 percent; criminal arrests of employees are down 83 percent; criminal arrests of employers are down 73 percent; the number of criminal indictments are down 86 percent; and the number of criminal convictions is down 83 percent since 2008. This insults unemployed and underemployed American workers who need the jobs held by illegal immigrants.

The hit is on your wallet! Illegal immigrants are a fiscal drain on American taxpayers. And the Obama administration’s policies only make it worse.

Not copyrighted! Tell--ALL--American citizens and permanent residents. PASS AROUND TO EVERYBODY.