Immigration enriches you and me

If migrants are given work permits and brought into the system, they will contribute $45 billion over five years in payroll taxes to the US economy.

By: New York Times | Published: November 30, 2014 12:36 am
Many Americans see foreigners moving into their towns, see signs in Spanish, and fret about changes to the traditional fabric of society. Many Americans see foreigners moving into their towns, see signs in Spanish, and fret about changes to the traditional fabric of society.

A book, The Christian Examiner, warns that “ill-clad and destitute” immigrants are “repulsive to our habits and our tastes”. A former mayor of New York City cautions  they bring disease, “wretchedness and want” to America. And Harper’s Weekly despairs that immigrants are “steeped in ignorance” and account for a disproportionate share of criminals.

Boy, those foreigners were threatening — back in the mid-1800s when those statements were made about Irish immigrants.

Once again, the United States is split by vitriolic debates about how to handle immigrants, following President Barack Obama’s executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. To me, the outrage seems driven by three myths:

Immigrants threaten our way of life: Many Americans see foreigners moving into their towns, see signs in Spanish, and fret about changes to the traditional fabric of society.

That’s an echo of the anxiety Theodore Roosevelt felt in 1918 when, referring to German and other non-Anglo European immigrants, he declared, “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.” That’s an echo of the “yellow peril” scares about Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

Undocumented immigrants may lower wages in some sectors, harming low-skilled native-born Americans who compete with them. One study suggests that a 10 per cent increase in the size of a skill group lowers the wages of blacks in that group by 2.5 per cent.

Yet, immigration has hugely enriched the country. For starters, unless you are a full-blooded American Indian, we have you.

Nations, like carpets, benefit from multiple kinds of threads, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, was right: “It is a good rule of thumb to ask of a country: Are people trying to get into it or out of it?”.

Immigrants are different because they’re illegals: People aren’t legal or illegal, behaviours are. If an investment banker is convicted of insider trading, he doesn’t become an illegal. So let’s refer not to “illegal immigrants” but to “undocumented immigrants”.

They have contributed $100 billion to Social Security over a decade without any intention of collecting benefits, thus shoring up the system, according to Stephen C Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration.

At the state and local level, households headed by unauthorised immigrants paid another $11 billion in taxes in 2010 alone.

If migrants are given work permits and brought into the system, they will contribute $45 billion over five years in payroll taxes to the US economy, according to the Center for American Progress.

Immigration reform is an unconstitutional power grab by a dictator: Senator Ted Cruz compared President Obama’s executive action to the Catiline conspirators seeking to overthrow the Roman Republic. House Speaker John Boehner suggested that it was the action of an “emperor”.

I’ve reported in many dictatorships (and been detained in some of them). And Obama is no dictator. It’s difficult to judge the legality of Obama’s executive action, because I’m not an expert on legal issues like prosecutorial discretion. But neither are critics furious at Obama. We have a broken, byzantine immigration system — anybody who deals with it is staggered by the chaos — because  politicians are too craven to reform it. At least Obama is attempting to modernise it.

Yes, it’s troubling that Obama previously argued he didn’t have this authority. Yes, his executive action is on a huge scale — but it is not entirely new. Obama’s action affects 45 per cent of undocumented immigrants, compared with the 40 per cent affected by President George H W Bush’s in 1990. Let’s leave the legal dispute for the experts to resolve.

I see a different hypocrisy in Obama’s action. He spoke eloquently a recent evening about the need to treat migrants humanely —  and yet this is the “deporter in chief” who has deported more immigrants than any of his predecessors. We as taxpayers have spent vast sums breaking up families and incarcerating honest men and women who just want to work. By a 2011 estimate, more than 5,000 children who are US citizens are with foster families because their parents have been detained or deported.

What most defines the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America is not illegality but undaunted courage and ambition for a better life. What separates their families from most of ours is simply the passage of time — and the lottery of birth.

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  1. G
    Nov 29, 2014 at 9:20 pm
    i'm an immigrant. We arrived legally, obe US laws, and learned English. Immigrants are legal by their definition in US Immigration laws (LPR's or legal alien). Undoented is not correct because most of these people have fraudulent doents. the difference between a migrant (alien) who entered illegally and an immigrant is that immigrants imilate and obey our laws. they have been violating our laws for years.
    1. Ettore Greco
      Nov 30, 2014 at 8:26 pm
      One single thought should fill the days of president Obama in his last year in office: free Humankind from the Beast in Texas. From the Kennedy ination up until 9/11 one hidden hand from Texas is ruling unchallenged over the all Country and the next presidential elections will extend its reach to the entire World. Obama should demand as soon as possible a thorough and new investigation of 9/11.All that is happening in our days is the prelude to enormous changes but even before discussing in regard of the possible remedy one must be clear about how we came to this point recognizing both physiognomy and origin of the threat.Since George H. Bush was CIA director, the US secret State agencies had pla a double role to finally get to where we are today when every person is constantly monitored by NSA and other agencies not to report the information to the US Government but to feed with all data the embryo of a new superpower still kept hidden. In brief, here is how it came to possess all means and to know everything of everyone 1988 the ex CIA director was elected president although this was a US president like no other. His attention quickly turned to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from where he personally benefited immensely in exchange for the protection of those tyrants and their oil while in the United States instead the president observed his son, Neil, to be the author of the largest robbery of its time, the “Savings and Loans" scandal. After a few years, the next largest robbery in history was Enron that financed the electoral campaign for his other son, George. Once he also became president, the son plotted the most infamous attack on US soil, 9/11, to begin the widest monitoring program ever conceived and to consolidate for 8 years the interest of one family above all. The day before 9/11 the Bush administration announced missing 2.3 trillion dollars from the US State Department. It could not provide any explanation and was never again discussed following the events of 9/11. That is still today the largest robbery in history our days, a group of Zionists, like a hidden parallel government, with George Bush still today at the head of secret services in the US, UK and Israel, is the destabilizing force behind most terror events and with clified information at disposal and a private army is plotting what now would seem unthinkable to many. The spokesman for this group in the US Congress is John Mc Cain who reports the given orders weighing on the US administration. Incredibly, his picture taken with the chief of ISIS was discovered and reported by the news but with no consequence for the Senator since he is the one in charge of the Intelligence Committee.A World War and chaos everywhere have already been planned so that desperate people will soon invoke a New World Order without even knowing what that is.With Jeb Bush next US president, the next War will be inevitable and also come by surprise.Not the protests or violence in the streets could ever oppose such threat to the w Humankind.There is one single Solution.:www.wavevolution