Americas, USA, Human Rights, Politics

Undocumented Immigrants: The Eternal Debate

Jodi Picoult in her book “Great Small Things” wrote that “white people don’t mean the half the offensive things that come out of their mouth…” Known as illegals, aliens, wetback, and a lot more, the undocumented immigrants across the world have faced discrimination and racism almost all their life. However, the latest environment in the first world countries has made it difficult to live in the countries they have spent their lives in.

From Europe to the USA, the immigrants offer cheap, reliable yet an abused form of manual labor. They do the jobs that no one else wants. You see them as the construction workers, crop pickers, house cleaners and what not. They work off the books, earn minimum wages and live always in fear. The ethnic instability and racism toward the immigrants whether documented or undocumented, legal or illegal has spurred one the hottest debate in the country that proclaims itself as one of the most developed countries in the world.

According to various debates made by the politicians, it can be believed that an undocumented immigrant takes the job that would otherwise go to the native-born American. Another argument that they make is that the immigrants add about $16 trillion to the USA’s national debt as many use the social welfare programs like hospitals and school on the taxpayer’s money.

What If We Lost all Undocumented Immigrants?

Nevertheless, the question that arises here is that if the immigrants were to go, would the native-born Americans happily take the jobs? Would they work in the fields, or in the animal slaughter industry? Would they work as house cleaners?

According to the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, there were about 8.4 million unauthorized immigrants employed in the U.S.; representing 5.2 percent of the U.S. labor force. The importance of the “aliens” (the slur that is often used) was highlighted in a report by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. It stated, “Without the undocumented population, Texas’ workforce would decrease by 6.3 percent” and Texas’ gross state product would decrease by 2.1 percent. Furthermore, certain segments of the U.S. economy, like agriculture, are entirely dependent upon illegal immigrants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that “about half of the hired workers employed in U.S. crop agriculture were unauthorized, with the overwhelming majority of these workers coming from Mexico.”

Deporting Immigrants Hurts us Most

The deportation of the immigrants would lead to an expeditious downfall of the agriculture in America. The Majority of the “native-born” Americans do not want the low paying jobs that require excessive manual labor. The main reason for majority of people asking for the deportations is the fact that they have been, through TV ads and speeches by the famous politicians (along with the President), made to believe that immigrants are living on their tax paying money and taking the jobs.

Myth #1: Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes

Fact: While the undocumented immigrants don’t have the legal migration status, they generally pay a host of taxes. Majority of them file income tax returns and more than 3 million have payroll taxes deducted from their paychecks. The immigrants paid about $100 billion in Social Security over the last decade, Stephen Gross, the chief actuary at the Social Security Administration, told Vice News last year.

After paying an estimate of $13 billion/year in the Social Security, the undocumented immigrants only withdraw about $1billion. This means they contribute about $12 billion to the USA’s economy.

Myth #2: Undocumented workers drive down the wages of native-born workers

Fact: Research indicates that the undocumented workers have an insignificant impact on the wages of those born in the United States. A study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that undocumented workers have only a “negligible impact” on the wages of documented workers who work at the same firm.

Myth #3: Undocumented immigrants are stealing American jobs

Fact: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pointed out in a 2013 paper, undocumented immigrants generally offer different skill sets than native-born workers, meaning they often aren’t competing for the same jobs. “The U.S. economy does not contain a fixed number of jobs for which immigrants and native-born workers compete,” the report says. Rather than opening up job opportunities for native-born workers, if all undocumented workers in the United States were deported, the U.S. would lose jobs, the report says.

It can be easily assessed that whether it is an undocumented immigrant or documented immigrant, the drain on the taxpayer’s money amounts to negligible, just like the drain on welfare and job opportunities. Immigrants as employees and employers create jobs, helping the American economy in the end. Any claim that they have ruined the country does not correlate with any report or the views of notable economists. It should be understood that when the immigrants cross the borders, they work for a citizen who hires them and offer them the skill set they have. It can be safely said that without immigrants, undocumented as well as documented, the US Economy especially the Agriculture and the Labor Department stand to lose a lot of money.

An open letter to President George W. Bush in 2006, signed by around five hundred economists (including five Nobel laureates) stated the following: “While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices.”

About Shagun Benipal

Writer by day, reader by night, Shagun is known for her love of coins, old photographs and books. She loves to share her thoughts on politics, world and space.

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