Wednesday, April 11, 2007

no more scapegoating immigrants

I'm so sick of hearing people say that the U.S. has an “immigration problem” and that immigrants drain “our” resources.

First of all, I’d argue that it’s U.S. governmental policy decisions that drain our resources, with the war in Iraq being number one on my list. This NY Times article, What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy or a website called National Priorities Project, which breaks down some of the budget cuts that the Bush administration has made to such crucial programs as health care and education.

Contrary to popular belief, immigrants are actually less likely to use health care and social services than non-immigrants. According to research published in 2005 in the American Journal of Public health, “per capita total health care expenditures of immigrants were 55% lower than those of US-born persons ($1139 vs $2546).” See this link for more information. Illegal immigrants, are even less likely to utilize health care services than other immigrants (and native-born Americans), though many pay taxes and purchase health insurance through their employers.

Take a look at this quote from a 2006 study published by the HARVARD Latino LAW REVIEW: “Undocumented immigrants living in the United States are subject to the same income tax laws as documented immigrants and U.S. citizens. However, because of their status most unauthorized workers pay a higher effective tax rate than similarly situated documented immigrants or U.S. citizens. Yet these workers and their families use fewer government services than similarly situated documented immigrants or U.S. citizens. Moreover, unauthorized workers have been denied remedies under the National Labor Relations Act by the U.S. Supreme Court, and they may be challenged to receive protection under wage and hour, anti-discrimination and workers’ compensation laws. As a result of all these factors, undocumented immigrants provide a fiscal windfall, and may be the most fiscally beneficial of all immigrants.”

Also, it’s important to note that immigrants actually stimulate the U.S. economy. According to a recently released study released by the Center for an Urban Future, during the past decade. . . immigrants have started more business than their American counterparts, “stimulating growth in sectors from food manufacturing to health care, creating loads of new jobs, and transforming once-sleepy neighborhoods into thriving commercial centers.”

I am citing all these studies, because I’m sick of immigrants baring the brunt of the problems creating by policy-makers. Please don’t be one of the people who blame immigrants for the resource-draining policies instituted by the Bush administration and others in the seat of power.

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