With the construction of the wall looking like a possibility in our new government it seems like a fair deal to get involved and informed about immigrants. With that said here are 3 myths about immigrants:
They don’t pay taxes: According to CNN collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues. Contributions varied by state. In Montana they contributed $2 million. In California, more than $2.2 billion. On average they pay about 6.4% of their income in state and local taxes, ITEP said.
The Tolerance Organization adds they also contribute to property taxes—a main source of school funding—when they buy or rent a house, or rent an apartment. The U.S. Social Security Administration estimated that in 2013 undocumented immigrants—and their employers—paid $13 billion in payroll taxes alone for benefits they will never get. They can receive schooling and emergency medical care, but not welfare or food stamps.
Being legal: when talking about being legal we can uncover two myths:
- They increase the crime rate. According to the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates from 1999 to 2006 were lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates. During that period, the total crime rate fell 14 percent in the 19 top immigration states, compared to only 7 percent in the other 31. Truth is, foreign-born people in America—whether they are naturalized citizens, permanent residents or undocumented—are incarcerated at a much lower rate than native-born Americans, according to the National Institute of Corrections.
- It is easy to enter legally. We are not saying it is ok for them to do it illegally, unlike the common believe it is not as easy to enter the country far less getting a visa. According to the State Department, that imaginary “immigration line” is already 4.4 million people long and depending on the type of visa sought and the country of origin, the wait can be years to decades long. In some countries, such as the Philippines and Mexico people have been waiting over 20 years for approval of a family-sponsored visa. Immigrants can legally get to the U.S by being sponsored by an employer or a family member, they can enter the country as refugees, or they could receive one of the selectively distributed professional or diversity visas. The Diversity Visa Program makes 55,000 green cards available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. According to the State Department, the fees to obtain permanent U.S. visas can range from $200 to over $700, excluding legal fees. Plus, there are visa quotas which limits immigration from any given country.
No more jobs for the Americans. The belief that immigrants take jobs that can otherwise be filled by hard-working Americans has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data. Removing the approximately 8 million unauthorized workers in the United States would not automatically create 8 million job openings for unemployed Americans, said Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, in his 2011 testimony before the House Judiciary Sub-committee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Says CNN and The Tolerance Organization tells us according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, close to 26 million foreign-born people, or 17 percent of the country’s labor force, worked in the United States in 2014. These workers are more likely to be employed by the service industry, while native-born workers are more likely to hold jobs in management, professional, sales and office occupations. To fill the void of low-skilled American workers, employers often hire immigrant workers. One of the consequences, unfortunately, is that it is easier for unscrupulous employers to exploit this labor source and pay immigrants less, not provide benefits and ignore worker-safety laws. On an economic level, Americans benefit from relatively low prices on food and other goods produced by undocumented immigrant labor.
There are many other myths we will be discussing on later post, meanwhile let us know where you stand on the immigration situation and what is your opinion on the myths we just discussed.
Sources: CNN and The Tolerance Organization.