Yesterday, here in Burlington, a new coalition called Immigrants Rights Vermont organized a protest against federal immigration legislation. Comments made by protesters include “no one is illegal,” and “We are deeply committed to ending the exploitation and abuse of immigrant workers who are working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our community,”
The immigration debate centers on House bill HR 4437, introduced in December by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that would make a person without proper legal immigration documents a criminal. The bill also proposes the construction of a fencing system along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It’s been my experience that people that want to deport illegal immigrants don’t like immigration period. They usually are based on the following fears:
- Loss of jobs
- Government benefits abuse.
Loss of jobs
I do not believe this to be a valid concern. First, any person here is creating more demand for products and services as they live here. Second, immigrants usually do jobs that many native born Americans are not willing to do. Many immigrants come here looking for the American Dream, they are hard-working, want to work, and often don’t have the entitlement and victim mentality that many native born American’s now have. They tend to be grateful for any opportunity afforded them. Because of their hard-work ethic, many immigrants are entrepreneurial and start their own businesses, thus creating more jobs. Immigrants such as Rupert Murdock, Pierre Omidyar, and Andrew Carnegie have been very successful with their businesses and have contributed greatly to our economy. Also, immigrants that are willing to work for lower wages help our existing businesses remain competitive with other businesses in other states and other countries. We should embrace and encourage immigration as a country to get more hard-working, productive people producing in our economy. Immigration is directly responsible for the success of the United States and any future should include an open border policy to facilitate free trade of products and services.
Government Benefits Abuse
Contrary to popular belief, there is little to no evidence that immigrants come to this country specifically for welfare. Actually, most studies show that immigrants use welfare less than native-born Americans. For example, a study of welfare recipients in New York City found that only 7.7% of immigrants were receiving welfare compared to 13.3% for the population as a whole. Likewise, a nationwide study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12.8% of immigrants were receiving welfare benefits, compared to 13.9% of the general population. Some recent studies indicate that the rate of welfare usage may now be equalizing between immigrants and native-born Americans, but, clearly, most immigrants are not on welfare.
I’ve also heard that people believe that immigrants are unfairly getting jobs due to government giving unfair advantages to minorities and immigrants. This is government problem, not a immigrant problem. The immigrants and minorities shouldn’t be blamed for this… the government laws and departments behind such policies. It’s unfortunate that many of the laws and policies the government has enacted to help minorities and immigrants be productive in society have worked very much against them by intalling hatred towards them for “taking jobs” without merit as well as downplaying their abilities to compete.
And specifically for illegal immigrants, I don’t see how it’s possible for them to get more government benefits than they pay for. Any person living here is going to pay property taxes through rent they pay and sales tax when they buy stuff, but an illegal immigrant is not likely to seek help from a local welfare office or any other government benefit program as they would face deportation.
Regardless, people are still concerned with immigrants receiving welfare benefits and privileges. Simply allow immigrants to prove they are not here for the welfare benefits. Many have no desire for them as most government welfare programs are destructive to the recipients anyways.
Edward Crane, President of the Cato Institute, stated the best solution would be as follows:
“Suppose we increased the level of immigration, but the rule would be that immigrants and their descendants would have no access to government social services, including welfare, Social Security, health care, business subsidies, and the public schools. I would argue, first, that there would be no lack of takers for that proposition. Second, within a generation, we would see those immigrants’ children going to better and cheaper schools than the average citizen; there would be less poverty, a better work ethic, and proportionately more entrepreneurs than in the rest of U.S. society; and virtually everyone in that group would have inexpensive high-deductible catastrophic health insurance, while the ‘truly needy’ would be cared for by an immigrant culture that gave proportionately more to charity.”
For more information:
– National LP Position on Immigration
– BFP: Burlington Joins Immigration Rally http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060411/NEWS01/604110316/1009/RSS01
– CATO Institute: Jobs, Immigration and Outsourcing
Please feel free to post your comments.