Immigration: Myths And Reality

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Who is benefiting from America’s tax dollars, when those “free loading� immigrants and illegal workers pay billions of dollars in federal and state taxes but never receive the benefits? How can immigrants “take away jobs from Americans� when they are the ones who create them?

Commentary: On Immigration


Where are you from? Me, my name is Shemma Stevens and my parents immigrated to America years ago.

There are many misconceptions that immigrants are a drain on the U.S economy but many studies have confirmed that the opposite is true. Even undocumented workers also called “illegal immigrants� contribute more than their fair share to the country stated Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman, in Congressional testimony.

Statements such as “American culture is being transformed,� the “infrastructure of our nations ideals are crumbling,� “they are here to mooch off of our government� and to “live an American life on our tax dollars,� are on the sum, false.

Consider the results from a study, “Chicago's Undocumented Immigrants," by Chirag Mehta, Nik Theodore, Iliana Mora and Jennifer Wade, Center for Urban Economic Development:

Out of an estimated 220,000 undocumented immigrants living the Chicago metro area, “the consumer expenditures by this group generate more than 31,000 jobs in the local economy and contribute $5.45 billion annually to the gross regional product,� the study found.

“The economic impact of undocumented workers goes well beyond the local economy,� states the study. “Despite the common perception that immigrants utilize government benefit programs without paying taxes, the survey found that nearly 70% of all undocumented workers paid taxes. The same data also suggests that immigrants did not claim any tax refunds for which they were eligible.�

The study also added: “According to a report prepared in 1990, undocumented immigrants paid $547 million in Illinois state tax, while the national aggregate contribution equaled $7 billion. Surprisingly, The Urban Institute also found that undocumented immigrants contributed a national total of $2.7 billion to Social Security and another $168 million to unemployment insurance taxes, both programs they will be unable to access because of their legal status.�

These contributions amount to the outright donations to the nation’s economy.  In addition to the to the mentioned tax donations, undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars on state tax when they purchase appliances, furniture, clothes and other goods. This adds to the falsehood that undocumented workers come here to get on welfare and utilize other government services.  According to studies an overwhelming majority of undocumented workers do not receive any assistance under government safety net programs.

Another widespread belief is that “immigrants take away jobs from Americans�.  This is a big hypocritical lie, in order to prove this as a lie; we can simply conduct an eyeball test.  Look around, drive by the fields where immigrants labor in stooped 12 hour shifts for less than minimum wage pay.  Here, do you see any lines of Americans clamoring to be hired? No. Do you see any white folks suing growers for “reverse discrimination� for not allowing them the opportunity to be exploited shamelessly? No. The same applies to the other industries that exploit these workers primarily by paying less than minimum wage. Do you see Americans fighting for the opportunity to work minimum wage jobs? I think not!

A recent U.S Department of Labor study noted that the notion that immigrants take jobs away from American workers is the most “persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought.�  The reality is that undocumented workers/immigrants create jobs.  A study showed that as a result of the immense spending by undocumented workers (their purchasing power in Illinois alone is $18.7 billion, according to Greenspan) and by the founding of small businesses by this group, they create jobs.  In Chicago alone, as already shown, undocumented workers generated 31,000 jobs in the local economy.

And contrary to the myth “those immigrants are only in it for the money�, they also bring with them to America many things which America claims to value, such as solid family structure.  Studies show that children of immigrants are more likely to be raised in a two parent household than are children of native born Americans.

So tell me; who is mooching on whom? When those accused of mooching more than pay their way in America. Who is benefiting from America’s tax dollars, when those “free loading� immigrants and illegal workers pay billions of dollars in federal and state taxes but never receive the benefits? How can immigrants “take away jobs from Americans� when they are the ones who create them? 

I am very confused and I wonder what the rest of you think about this; because in my opinion Immigrants built America.


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