Immigration, Good or Bad for the Economy?

So is immigration good or bad for our economy?  I hear a lot about the drain on public services.  Illegal immigrants reaping social benefits without paying taxes.  Helping to push state and local governments near the brink of bankruptcy.  On their own each of these arguments seem to make sense and produce a pretty strong case for immigration crack downs as are happening in Arizona.  However, what about the big picture?  What if the hundreds of thousands of people here in the US where given a path to contribute?  I’m not saying just flip a switch but from an economic standpoint I’d argue the more contribution the better.

Take for example the fact that illegal immigrants in this country make cash under the table and then spend that cash.  That is the only form of money they have and it significantly limits what they can buy and how much they can spend.  Just consider for a second if a million people were given even a low limit credit card?  What might happen then from an economic standpoint?

This isn’t about a specific nationality, just merely about economics and economics is a numbers game.  I say if we want our economy to rebound more quickly put more spending power in the hands of as many people as possible.

Stolen American Dreams

I find this video very powerful as it brings up both sides into perspective: the immigrant side and the American side. As immigrants, it is really hard to put ourselves into the shoes of American people. The reality is that with over 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, and with numbers increasing by the thousands every day, Americans are being deprived from their American dream. There are 150 countries around the world which each has less population than the amount of illegal immigrants in the USA.

Companies are not hiring illegal immigrants just because they are better workers than Americans; the main reason is because immigrants are willing to take the same jobs for less pay. I cannot imagine having to compete for a job with 12 million people where what matters the most is what I am willing to take as pay. You might wonder how illegal immigrants can afford to take a low paying job; here is the answer: because of their immigration status their goal is to make as much money as possible and send it back to their country so they can go back and start a new life. It is normal to see large number of people living in a small apartment, maybe up to 10 in a 2 bedroom apartment. They have no incentive to live in better conditions as they can be deported anytime. If you do the math, a $500 apartment will cost each person $50 a month plus utilities.

So, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Because companies are in for the money, they do not care about who they hire; they are looking at their bottom line. It is only natural to blame illegal immigration for all the problems but who is incentivizing these people? The government plays a big role here too, they are not doing anything! We need workers coming here legally, employers hiring legal immigrants, and our government implementing an immigrant worker program as well as enforcing the law not only with illegal immigrants but with companies hiring people illegally.

Now, who is stealing the American dream from US Citizens?

All Men Are Not Created Equally

Photo by Semos Muchos

What happened to the America that all the countries looked up to and admired or perhaps were jealous of? In the last decade, we seem to have lost the human touch and dignity. Have we become materialistic and careless about humanity? We need to be reminded that this nation was created by immigrants and we will always live under that shadow. Although it is clear that something needs to be done to stop illegal immigration, attacking the Fourteenth Amendment has gone way too far.

It is beyond my understanding why the Fourteenth Amendment is not clear to those proposing to remove birthright citizenship “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” In 1776 Thomas Jefferson’s declared: “all men are created equally” but we seem to have forgotten that.

What are our principles now? Let’s forget about the illegal immigration issue for a second and let’s put ourselves in the lives of US Citizen children born to illegal immigrants. The Story below is just one of the many thousand  stories about torn apart families with no chance to “pursuit happiness.” When did children become responsible for this?

I was a victim of being separated from my parent due to deportation laws. An unfairly treatment towards immigrants. The day before my dad was deported was the worst day. My mom took us to Puerto Rico were he was incarcerated and we got to see him in court. When the judge final decision was made we had no choice but to say goodbye. It was the first time I seen my father cry. He got on his knees and hugged my sisters and I. It was the worse feeling ever and soon tears were strolling down my face. That was the day my family was destroyed because of the unfairness of the deportation laws… Every year many children are separated from there parents… Can you imagine how hard it is to grow up without your two parents? I can and it is hard.” C. Baez

What’s the future of our country? Would Thomas Jefferson be proud of our leaders? We need to protect our country but not at the expense of our children. What type of leaders are we creating with the signals we are sending to our new generations?

Behind an illegal immigrant there is human, a father, a mother, etc., not all Immigrants are criminals. When weeds grow in a wheat field, we need to harvest the good wheat and burn the weeds.

Are YOU Ready to Pick Tomatoes?

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As the illegal immigration issue continues to heat up, my economist side keeps on lingering in my thoughts. Many illegal immigrant workers are employed by farms in states close the Mexican border. These workers are usually underpaid, their salaries are somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 per day.  Competition from Latin American crop producers is also an issue; tariffs do not seem to stop foreign products from making it into the US market.

Although I am not in favor of illegal immigration, our economy needs the human resources provided by illegal immigrants. A massive deportation is not the answer to the current economical downturn. As the unemployment keeps on rising, more and more attention is being paid to illegal workers. We did not pay much attention to illegal immigrants during the “dot-com” era, but since jobs are now scarce, it is only natural to put our eyes on illegal workers.

Now the question is: are we Americans willing to take their jobs for the same pay?  There may be a small group that may be willing to do so, but I do not think this small group will fulfill the demand for farm workers. Higher salaries would be required in order to draw Americans to the farming fields and hence crop prices would soar. If prices soar, competition from outside the US would have an advantage over our produce and the demand for US grown products would fall. Under this scenario we would lose jobs to foreign competition.

It is true that not all immigrants are hard workers but, farm workers have demonstrated over and over how valuable they are to our economy. We cannot punish these people for the wrongdoings of others. We need to put an immigrant farm worker program in place in order to keep our crop prices low and in order to compete with foreign grown produce.

I am sure many will not agree with me but I am personally not willing to pay more for produce. Are you?

Do Illegal Immigrants Pay Income Taxes?

During my last 12 years in the US, I have worked for different companies ranging from construction to landscaping and health supplements. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to work with many legal and illegal immigrants. Since I have always taken employment by legal means, I cannot talk about personal experiences but instead I will refer to what I have witnessed during my work journey.

It is true that a majority of illegal immigrants do not file income taxes as required by law, but this does not necessarily mean that they do not pay income taxes. Employers are required by law to withhold income taxes from their pay checks. So what happens when illegal immigrants do not file taxes? Because illegal immigrants do not have a social security number, some of them work with a fake number, filing taxes is not an option, or at least I am not aware of it. Many fear that filing income taxes will expose them to government officials and hence being prone to deportation.  Their income level is usually low so if illegal immigrants filed income taxes, they would likely get a refund which in turn would leave our government with less money. We also need to take into consideration that these people have no access to Social Security and Medicare benefits even when they are contributing to it. So who benefits from their contribution?

There is a group of illegal immigrants that may not contribute as required by law. I recall working with a young immigrant who was about 20 years old; he claimed to have 8 dependants in order to make his deduction as low as possible.

In many instances when income taxes are not paid by illegal immigrants, it is because they are paid cash for the work performed. I still do not understand why an employer would pay cash as they cannot claim the expense; the truth of the matter is that it does happen often.

Some people are not aware of the fact that employers withhold income taxes from illegal immigrants. What we may never know is whether other benefits received by illegal immigrants outweigh the tax, Social Security and Medicare contributions they make.

Do you think we benefit from income taxes paid by illegal immigrants?

The Latest News: the Immigration Debate Continues with no Light at the end of the Tunnel

Although I disagree with the image this video by Current TV is trying to portray, I could not help but to write about it. Over 3 Million people have watched it and over 23,000 comments have been made over YouTube.

According to this video, the current illegal immigration issue is not any different than what it was back in 1621. The many comments being made on the above video portray mixed feelings from both pro and anti-immigrant people.
Anti-Immigrants claim that Pilgrims and Colonists did not break any laws because American Indian did not have any written laws in place. American Indians did not know how to read or write! The laws were handed down orally through generations. It is estimated that there were about 600 tribes prior to European immigration, each tribe had their own territory; some tribes were composed of warriors who invaded, dominated and took over weaker tribes. American Indians where trusting people, they did not need to have a constitution to do the right thing, they did what was natural to them. “Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, an enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equality, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.” — Black Elk, Holy man of the Oglala Sioux

Now, the question is: what makes current illegal immigration different than European Immigration back in the 1600’s?

  • Why did Europeans come to America
  • Why are current illegal immigrants coming to America
  • Did Europeans have rights that current illegal immigrants do not have?
  • Were American Indian rights violated?

Pro immigrants claim that since Pilgrims and colonists came to America illegally, current illegal immigrants have the right to be here. So the question is, what would happen if America decided to have open borders? Will that really fix any problems? Masses of people would immigrate to the United States, natural resources would become scarce and catastrophe would follow.

The illegal immigration debate will continue for a long time but one thing is clear, immigrants who came to America in the 1600’s made this country the Greatest Nation in the world. Most Illegal immigrants come to America because of what this Great Nation has to offer.

There is nothing wrong with immigration, legal immigration. Our country can benefit from immigrants, those willing to keep on building the empire European immigrants started in the 1600’s.

Video by Current TV

Government Stop Wasting our Tax Dollars, Here is the Solution to Illegal Immigration…

The illegal immigration issue has become a heated topic; we cannot go a day without hearing about it on the news. It is hard to understand why the government cannot put their act together and keep on spending our tax dollars trying to stop illegal immigration.

A different approach needs to be taken in order to solve this problem. A doctor prescribing a pain killer for a headache will not cure the infection. Government officials need to look at the root of the problem which is not illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are the result of our bad government system and poor decision making.

In order to stop illegal immigration we need to understand the reasons why they want to be here. Although there are many reasons why illegal immigrants are attracted to come to the US, in my opinion these are the main ones:

  • Employers hiring illegal immigrants and government not doing anything to stop them
  • Benefits by government programs such as food stamps, welfare, school lunch programs, subsidized housing, etc.
  • Government willing to spend money to cater non-English speaking people

Just the examples above are enough incentive for illegal immigration!  If our government put their act together, they wouldn’t have to waste our money especially during an economy downturn. Think about this, according to the United States Government Accountability Office (GOA), “in 2009, CBP obligated $58 million… to construct approximately 3.5 miles of secondary fencing in the San Diego sector at an average cost of about $16 million per mile.” Is that how we taxpayers want our money spent? Has the new fence stopped illegal immigrants?

What kind of signal are we sending out? On one hand we try stopping illegal immigration but on the other hand our government provides the incentives for them to come.

The solution is simple:

  • Fine those who hire illegal immigrants, enforce the law
  • Stop government assistance
  • Put a system in place for immigrant workers to come to the USA with a work visa when the need arises.

Who would want to be here if there were no jobs and no help from the government? No need to spend our tax dollars on obsolete and unproductive plans.

How do you think we can solve this problem?

Photo by Nathan Gibbs