Immigrant Myths Vs Facts
By Thomas R. Eddlem, The New American
April 27, 2006
Politicians and pundits are defending illegal immigration with worn-out myths that can easily be proven wrong.
Myth: Illegal immigrants contribute greatly to the American economy.
Fact: So-called statistics supporting this myth are typically a deceptive amalgam of statistics and supposition arranged to conceal an undeniable truth. Consider, for instance, this statement from the ACLU paper Immigrants and the Economy (2002): "Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5 billion in welfare. Without their contributions to the public treasury, the economy would suffer enormous losses." If 32.5 million immigrants (the total of legal and illegal immigrants, according to the recent U.S. Census figures) really pay $90 billion in taxes, then they pay half the taxes the average native-born American pays. Note too that the ACLU combines both legal and illegal immigrants into its statistic. Most taxes paid by immigrants are paid by legal immigrants. Illegal immigrants often pay little or no taxes because many of them are working "under the table" in the underground, cash-based economy.
Welfare is a term limited to only a few federal subsidy programs, and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) notes: "Even though illegal aliens make little use of welfare, from which they are generally barred, the costs of illegal immigration in terms of government expenditures for education, criminal justice, and emergency medical care are significant." CIS estimates that the total net cost of illegal immigration is an annual drain on the government of $11-22 billion annually.
Myth: We are a nation of immigrants.
Fact: This myth is false on its face. Nearly 88 percent of the people living in the United States today are not immigrants; they were born here. This is a nation of natives, not a nation of immigrants. "But," the liberal propagandists reply, "we all have ancestors who come from other countries." And, one might reply, so does just about every other nation on Earth.
Are not the French merely descendents of the immigrant barbarian Franks, who drove out the Roman era Celtic Gauls? And the English are simply immigrant Angles and Saxons who virtually wiped out the Celtic Britons in the fifth century A.D. They too are simply nations of immigrants under this liberal myth, as is practically every other nation on Earth. The myth descends to meaninglessness upon any serious analysis. Yet whenever this myth is uttered, we are expected to nod our heads in agreement that a deep and salient point has been made.
Myth: You cannot deport 12 million people.
Fact: This is nothing more than a slogan for people who have stopped trying to address the problem. The U.S. government needs to begin deporting illegal aliens, and even if it only deports a fraction of them over the next few years that would be progress. If the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported only two million of the 12 million illegal aliens, 10 million illegals would be better than 12 million.
Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) notes that enforcing employer sanctions could lead many to go home on their own without deportation proceedings: "If you can't get a job in this country, and if you can't get social service benefits, you go home." Additionally, a lot of immigrants visit families on their own, and wouldn't be able to get back in if Congress decides to secure the border.
On the other hand, if the 12 million illegals are legalized, none would be deported. Moreover, this amnesty (whether called amnesty or not) would simply induce more illegals to cross the Rio Grande in the hopes of waiting until the next amnesty.
Myth: Illegal immigrants are only taking jobs Americans do not want.
Fact: Many illegal immigrants are able to work for less than market value because they don't pay income or Social Security taxes and are able to take their entire paycheck (or cash) home. This is not only unfair competition against employers who follow the law and pay employees "above the table," but it depresses the wage scale for Americans who would otherwise select jobs currently filled by illegal immigrants. These are jobs that Americans "do not want" only because the illegal immigrants have depressed the wage scale for the positions. Take away the illegal immigrants, and the market would raise wages to the level where Americans would take the jobs.
Myth: Guest workers would only be here temporarily.
Fact: History demonstrates that "guest workers" would be as temporary as the "temporary" telephone tax, still in effect, that Congress enacted in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American War. And what would happen if 12 million "guest workers" decided not to leave? Those who argue against deporting the current 12 million illegal aliens as impractical are likely, if challenged, to say they find the prospect of deporting "guest workers" impractical as well.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that President Bush fails to mention a time limit on the "temporary" worker visas the federal government would permit under the "guest worker" program he is pushing in his public addresses. Most pending congressional legislation would limit the "guest worker" to three years - but what then?
Myth: Illegal immigrants have a right to come here. It is our Christian duty to provide hospitality.
Fact: Nearly two-thirds of the 32.5 million foreign-born people living in the United States entered this country legally, and the United States has more legal immigrants than any other country in the world. That's hardly poor hospitality, and no bill before Congress that has a chance of becoming law would change this nation's hospitality. But it is poor hospitality to say to the nearly 22 million legal U.S. immigrants who waited in line that they wasted their time following the rules because illegal immigrants will now get the same status.
The need to deport illegal aliens and secure our borders has nothing to do with persecuting minorities or lack of hospitality. The United States can continue to allow a large or small number of immigrants into this country legally, depending upon how many can be reasonably assimilated without destroying our American identity. Rather, securing our borders is necessary as a matter of principle - in the interests of equal justice under law - as well as practical security in this age of international terrorism. And this nation can no longer afford to allow "myth-information" slogans to sidetrack the nation from fulfilling the mandate of controlling the borders.
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