Unwelcome and unwanted immigrants and the economy
Americans and Mexicans have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to the economic rules and principles that we live by. We really need each other to be at our best. Although a popular talk radio conception is “those Mexicans from Guatemala and El Salvador, come here, take our jobs or live off of food stamps our welfare role.” Like the factual backlash to The DaVinci Code, here are a few things I've run across that we can add to the discussion:
Illegal immigrants are not on welfare
“The 1996 welfare reform bill disqualified illegal immigrants from nearly all means-tested government programs including food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid and Medicare-funded hospitalization. The only services that illegals can still get are emergency medical care and K-12 education.” Though one could build a case for our schools bearing the lion’s share of the economic burden, consider the alternatives. If children are going to stay here, don’t we want them to be part of the educated labor force?
The majority of illegal immigrants pay taxes
"Close to 8 million of the 12 million or so illegal aliens in the country today file personal income taxes using these numbers, contributing billions to federal coffers. No doubt they hope that this will one day help them acquire legal status — a plaintive expression of their desire to play by the rules and come out of the shadows.
What's more, aliens who are not self-employed have Social Security and Medicare taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks. Since undocumented workers have only fake numbers, they'll never be able to collect the benefits these taxes are meant to pay for. Last year, the revenues from these fake numbers — that the Social Security administration stashes in the "earnings suspense file" — added up to 10 percent of the Social Security surplus. The file is growing, on average, by more than $50 billion a year.
Beyond federal taxes, all illegals automatically pay state sales taxes that contribute toward the upkeep of public facilities such as roads that they use, and property taxes through their rent that contribute toward the schooling of their children. The nonpartisan National Research Council found that when the taxes paid by the children of low-skilled immigrant families — most of whom are illegal — are factored in, they contribute on average $80,000 more to federal coffers than they consume."
“Using data from the Census Bureau's current population survey, Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, an advocacy group in Washington that favors more limits on immigration, estimated that 3.8 million households headed by illegal immigrants generated $6.4 billion in Social Security taxes in 2002.”
Undocumented immigrants bolster the economy of Mexico
Every week Mexican nationals who reside in the US send money back to their families in Mexico in the form of “remittances.” The BBC reports that in 2004 “Mexicans abroad sent back $16.6b, making it the second largest source of income after oil.” (The estimates for 2005 are closer to $20b.) Monetary assistance in the form of foreign aid pales by comparison. In 2004 we gave Mexico $33m for “development assistance, child survival and health, and economic support funds.” Is economic assistance in the form of productive labor a better way to help a country? What new economic pressures would drive illegal entry were remittances to cease flowing?