- “In the current immigration debate, different groups have used the terms ‘illegal immigrant’ and ‘undocumented immigrant’ to refer to the same group of people. Here, ‘undocumented immigrant’ is used. The word ‘illegal’ connotes harmful criminal behavior, arousing unfounded fears and suspicions toward a group of people that have come to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves and their families. Most undocumented immigrants are here to work and to join family members and are contributing a lot to our society and our economy.” ~“The Facts: Undocumented Immigrants,” The Advocate for Human Rights Group
- “Our immigration system inadequately addresses our nation’s economic needs and the reality of globalization. Put simply, we do not issue as many visas as the market demands. This is not a new problem. In 1986 and 1996, Congress passed immigration legislation, but failed both times to adequately address legal pathways for future immigrants. Thus, today, we still have a large undocumented population. When people speak of our immigration system being “broken,” they are likely referring to the following problems:
- There are no legal paths to immigrate for most low-skilled workers. All sides agree that illegal immigration is a problem. It has expanded the profitable human smuggling industry, and has led to increasing numbers of deaths of migrants due to exposure and drowning.
- In response, immigrant advocates call for “comprehensive immigration reform” that gives legal paths to people who are already a part of our society and economy and provides opportunities for future immigration.”
- Legalization brings economic benefits.
- “Comprehensive immigration reform which includes a legalization program for unauthorized immigrants and enables a future flow of legal workers would result in a large economic benefit– a cumulative $1.5 trillion in added U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 10 years. In stark contrast a deportation-only policy would result in a loss of $2.6 trillion in GDP over 10 years.”
- Immigrants help drive the economy.
- “A 2007 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers concluded that immigration increases GDP by roughly $37 billion each year because immigrants increase the size of the total labor force, complement the native-born workforce in terms of skills and education, and stimulate capital investment by adding workers to the labor pool.”
- “The purchasing power of immigrant communities is enormous– and growing: According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, the purchasing power of Latinos totaled $978.4 billion in 2009 and is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2014.”
- The entrepreneurship of immigrant communities employs millions of people.
- “The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2002, 1.6 million Hispanic‐owned firms provided jobs to 1.5 million employees, had receipts of $222 billion, and generated payroll of $36.7 billion.”
Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for public benefits.
- “This includes income supplements—e.g., Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), health care (Medicaid and Medicare), and food stamps.”
Immigrants use less healthcare on average than U.S. citizens.
- “According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, immigrants do not impose a disproportionate financial burden on the U.S. health care system. The per capita total health care expenditures of immigrants are less than half those of U.S.-born persons, and immigrants are significantly less likely to use the emergency room than are citizens. Further restricting immigrants’ access to benefits is not a solution to our immigration problems. In fact, the more people paying into a healthcare system, especially healthier working-age people, the more the costs are spread out.”
Like the rest of us, undocumented immigrants pay taxes.
- Even the majority of unauthorized immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. And all immigrants pay sales taxes and property taxes. Many studies have found that immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. The National Research Council estimated in 1997 that “the average immigrant pays nearly $1,800 more in taxes than he or she costs in benefits.” Many state‐level studies have also found that immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take out.
- “Between one‐half to three‐quarters of unauthorized immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. All unauthorized immigrants pay sales taxes (when they buy anything at a store, for instance) and property taxes (even if they rent housing).”
Undocumented immigrants pay Social Security taxes but don’t collect.
- “The Social Security Administration (SSA) has concluded that unauthorized immigrants “account for a major portion” of the billions of dollars paid into the Social Security system under names or Social Security numbers that don’t match SSA records; payments from which immigrants cannot benefit while unauthorized. As of October 2005, the reported earnings on which these payments are based—which are tracked through the SSA’s Earnings Suspense File (ESF)—totaled $520 billion.”
~All of the above information has been taken from the Immigration Policy Center.