In country, illegal immigrants from the south are abused regularly by businesses and farms in particular. Earning but $3.50 a day, migrant workers are given backbreaking day-long work to do, and if they complain, they are simply sent back home. Some growers deduct room and board from the pay. George Grayson at William and Mary college says "The truth is, you can pay [the guest workers] a pittance. And if they cause the slightest disturbance, you can send them back to Guatemala."
Stories of abuse by criminals in trying to cross the border are common, even abuse by police and border patrols. Goods are stolen, beatings are reported as regular. And through it all, the government has a significantly tighter immigration policy than their neighbor to the North:
- Only professionals or investors can immigrate to the country. No unskilled laborers will be allowed in. Investors must be able to invest at least 40,000 times the daily average wage. If they can't, they are not allowed in.
- Immigrants may purchase property, but locations and availability will be limited. Ocean front property cannot be purchased by immigrants. It is exclusively for citizens born in the country.
- Immigrants cannot vote nor can they be elected to any public office.
- Immigrants cannot collect any type of government assistance.
- Immigrants cannot protest the countries government, policies or president.
- Immigrants cannot display a flag of a foreign country.
- Immigrants who have illegally entered the country will be found and imprisoned or deported.
For every complaint the Mexican government registers about our activities, they are doing that or more to protect their border. Complaints by illegal immigrants and activists about proposed in rallies? All stronger laws in Mexico. One of the major complaints in these rallies was a ghastly Republican plan in the House of Representatives to make illegal immigration a felony... which it has been in Mexico for over 30 years. These immigrants most likely knew that, but then they are the ones who claim this is their land and white people need to go back to Europe too.
The Mexican Government cries foul every time the United States tries to protect its borders and better control immigration, in the face of it's own actions. It even published a booklet on how to be an illegal immigrant into the United States. Yes, I'm not kidding, the Mexican government published a comic book with tips on how to sneak into the USA illegally and stay here. Although the official government website with the comic book has since been removed, sites have kept a copy for posterity.
If you are curious about this comic, (a pdf file) scans of the pages is available to read, as well as several sites with translations (be careful, some of the translations are... taking liberties, shall we say for comedic effect).
In January, the Fox administration announced a plan to offer free maps of the US for Mexicans, in case they were really curious about their neighbor to the North. These maps had interesting highlights, such as main roads and water tanks. "It is not helpful for anyone, no matter how well intended they might be, to produce road maps that lead aliens into the desolate and dangerous areas along the border, and potentially invite criminal activity, human exploitation and personal risk," said Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke. The plan was later abandoned.
Why would the Mexican Government oppose even the steps his own government has taken to control the border between the US and Mexico, and try to assist illegal immigrants? There are a few reasons. Mexico is a very poor country, especially compared to the USA just at its border. Here are a few facts about the country:
- Arable land 12.66% (the USA by comparison is 18.01%)
- Irrigated land 63,200 sq km
- Total land area: 1,923,040 sq km
- Population: 107,449,525
- Net Migration rate: -4.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population
- Birth Rate: 1.16% growth rate, 20.69 births/1,000 population
- Death Rate: 4.74 deaths/1,000 population
- Gross Domestic Product: $693 billion (the USA by comparison is $12.49 trillion)
- Population below the poverty line: 40% (USA 12%)
In 2003, the Associated Press reported this:
Remittances began to gradually outstrip tourism starting in 1998, although some recorded "tourism" is actually Mexicans bringing rather than sending money to family members.The Mexican government is not interested in this income being lost, in fact it seems to want to increase the amount of money that is sent home in this manner. Looking at these numbers it is no wonder every single effort to reduce or control immigration is met with opposition by Mexico: it could cost them tens of billions of peos every year. The problem for Mexico is that families who don't need to work to survive because of this money aren't getting jobs, aren't doing anything productive for the nation. As immigrants pour north, workers and ambitious, energetic citizens leave the country. Families are split apart, sometimes permanently as migrants find new lovers and start new families. Mexico gets dollars and pesos... but loses in the process. At this rate, immigration actually is damaging to Mexico in the long run for a quick buck in the short run.
This year, recorded remittances jumped an astonishing 29 percent in the first half of 2003 to US$6.3 billion, outstripping the US$5.2 billion sent in direct foreign investment.
That's second only to income from oil exports, at more than US$8 billion, and well ahead of tourism at US$4.9 billion.
In the United States, the cost is a little different. Although Social Security earnings are increased by illegal immigrants, the costs elsewhere are painful. Each business will report and match social security deductions for employees to avoid IRS entanglement and penalties. If these employees are illegal and have no, or false, documentation then the record of this money goes into the Earning Suspense File, waiting confirmation on who these people are and who should get it. Illegals typically get none of the money they've put into the system - nor ought they, being illegally here and taking advantage of our generosity - but this is a boon to the Social Security system. From the New York Times article:
It is impossible to know exactly how many illegal immigrant workers pay taxes. But according to specialists, most of them do. Since 1986, when the Immigration Reform and Control Act set penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, most such workers have been forced to buy fake ID's to get a job. Currently available for about $150 on street corners in just about any immigrant neighborhood in California, a typical fake ID package includes a green card and a Social Security card. It provides cover for employers, who, if asked, can plausibly assert that they believe all their workers are legal. It also means that workers must be paid by the book - with payroll tax deductions.The result of this act was a surge of money to federal coffers with nobody to give it to. Congress is likely very fond of this money, and this likely goes a long way toward explaining the reluctance of many congressmen in the US to do anything about illegal immigration.
In the current decade, the file is growing, on average, by more than $50 billion a year, generating $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security tax revenue and about $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes.That's a lot of illegal immigrants. These immigrants work for less than union workers or other US citizens, and can't really complain about poor working conditions. Usually, even wages below minimum wage for the state in question is much better than what they earned in Mexico, and often the work is much easier. Cut lawns and do yardwork for 20 dollars a job, at your own leisure, or work 12 hours a day cutting agave for the tequila factory at pennies an hour; which would you prefer?
In 2002 alone, the last year with figures released by the Social Security Administration, nine million W-2's with incorrect Social Security numbers landed in the suspense file, accounting for $56 billion in earnings, or about 1.5 percent of total reported wages.
The cheap labor leaves money made by business or home owners more to spend elsewhere, thus lettuce and oranges are cheaper to produce and the economy is stimulated by the extra cash.So we're making money off them, right, they are a boon to the economy? Not exactly.
There are several major costs that illegal immigrants incur in the United States: enforcement, hospitals, prisons, unemployment, and welfare.
While the US government, other than changing the name of INS to the BCIS, does not do a lot, compared to what the laws demand and the people of the US desire. Even the slight enforcement of immigration laws, however, costs money. Border patrols, BCIS raids, bureaucracy, enforcement of laws, tracking down reports and capturing illegals, prosecuting people who hire illegal immigrants, holding captured illegals, repatriating captured illegals, all of that costs money. The more illegal immigrants there are, the more it costs, and this adds up to the billions of dollars every year. Fewer illegal immigrants means less cost to this agency and less money out of the pockets of taxpayers to pay for it.
In the United States it is illegal for any health care provider to refuse needed health care. Hospitals cannot turn away a sick or hurt patient simply because they cannot pay - nor would most doctors and nurses even be inclined to, even if the bean counters and administration might prefer it. Here's what a Fox News report had to say on the topic:
Los Angeles County’s emergency rooms are overburdened by the uninsured and overwhelmed by illegal immigration. Sixty percent of the county's uninsured patients are not U.S. citizens, and more than half are here illegally. With about 2 million undocumented aliens in Los Angeles County alone, patients in the County’s overcrowded emergency rooms can wait days for a hospital bed for necessary surgeries. In 2004, Los Angeles County spent $340 million to treat the uninsured – roughly $1,000 for every taxpayer – while illegal immigrants receive medical treatment for free.That's one county in one state in the US. The costs in medical care are high enough to hospitals who simply have to absorb non-paying patients (passing the cost on to others who can pay) without adding millions of illegal immigrants to the mix. We cannot refuse to care for the sick and the needy, but the cost of having to do so for so many who are breaking the law to be here in the first place is damaging.
There's another hidden cost in this: any child born in the United States is instantly a US citizen. While traveling across the border and the desert is dangerous and potentially deadly, pregnant women will make the trip to have their baby in the US. This tiny citizen then is protected by US laws and gains legal US benefits - as do their parents. More on that in Welfare, below. But simply the cost of poverty-stricken illegals coming into hospitals to have babies and take up a bed is something that must be at least considered.
Illegal immigrants are, by definition, breaking the law by being in the United States. Not all of them are criminals in any other way, some are otherwise law-abiding, solid, and productive citizens desperate for a better life, a chance to make money and help their families. Some see the American dream and want to be part of the country, to be an American.
Some do not.
Take the latest General Accounting Office study of what the federal government spends on incarcerating illegal aliens who not only break immigration laws, but the criminal code as well. The federal government spent $5.8 billion over the last three years on housing these inmates in federal prisons.Time Magazine did an analysis of the cost of Illegal Immigration and their report included this:
Of course, far more criminal aliens are incarcerated in local and state facilities.
For example, there are about 50,000 criminal aliens in federal prisons right now. But there are about 75,000 in state prisons and 150,000 in local jails.
Do the math. That's roughly $6 billion plus $27 billion, for a whopping $33 billion just for room and board for two-time offenders – illegal aliens who committed criminal violations after they broke immigration laws.
Smugglers use fleets of stolen cars, resulting in Arizona ranking first nationwide in cars stolen per capita. Local police explain the financial ripple effect from illegals under arrest – they can't make bond and thus spend more time in jail, they get a public defender, and are entitled to treatment for health problems, all at taxpayer expense.In North Carolina, law enforcement are worried about the future for their state if something is not done.
Open borders allow illegals to come into the country, commit crimes and return home with little fear of arrest or punishment. The U.S. Border Patrol stops literally thousands crossing into the country illegally with U.S. criminal records, whom returned to Mexico and were trying to re-enter the U.S. Of 400,000 illegal aliens ordered to be deported, 80,000 have criminal records. Unfortunately, the Homeland Security Dept. does not know their whereabouts, including those from countries that support terrorism.
Randy Jones, director of public information for the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department, said about 40 percent of the inmates in the county’s jail are Hispanics and most of those have illegally entered the country.
“It’s draining the system, and you’re looking at disaster,” he said. “Some of the public is just coming to grips with (illegal immigrants). Right now, there’s not a way to solve the problem until the government solves the problem. The issue needs to be addressed on both the federal and state level.”
The crimes? Many are smaller crimes such as driving while intoxicated, which in Mexico is not as culturally frowned upon. There are other crimes as well:
Illegal drug use and smuggling is also a problem among those illegally living in North Carolina. Sheriff Steve Bizzell of Johnson County addressed this topic during an Issues Forum on Illegal Immigration at the North Carolina Leadership Conference 2006. Eighty percent to 85 percent of drug trafficking in his jurisdiction is committed by Hispanics, he said.According to Jim Kouri at the National Association of Chiefs of Police, two-thirds of illegal immigrants across the country have been arrested before and 61 percent have been convicted of crimes at least once. This is a serious problem for the nation. Certainly the ability to get away with breaking a nation's law in entering and staying here is not going to encourage more lawful behavior at a later date. It is estimated that thirty percent of our jails are illegal immigrants, costing $1.6 billion annually. In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.
A growing wave of gang-related violence, including murders and armed robberies, is also cropping up in rural counties. In an ABC News report, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said Sampson County is trying to deal with a surge of Hispanic gangs.
A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.
The examples go on and on, it is a serious and growing problem in the United States. This costs a lot of money, not simply holding them in prison but the "ripple effect" describe above in the Time Magazine article.
It is estimated that 40% of illegal immigrants are actually unemployed. This not only has a cost effect from unemployment benefits, crime, and welfare, but it also means that nearly half of the illegal immigrant population actually is not making money, producing anything, or taking low-cost jobs to benefit Americans in any way. The bulk are, but many are not according to these numbers, which means the actual economic benefit examined above is significantly lower than one would think.
Further, it is an abject lie to say that illegals take jobs Americans won't do. There are Americans who would do these jobs, especially younger ones, who cannot because the jobs they would take and could do - often the only ones they are truly qualified for - are not available to them. This especially hits handicapped people, those who are not able to hold high skill jobs but can do simple labor. Why hire the kid with Down's syndrome when Gutierrez will do the work, and can't complain if he's misused? According to Harvard Professor George Borjas this effectively costs American workers $133 billion dollars annually.
Are Illegal Immigrants doing the jobs Americans won't do? Not according to Rich Lowrey:
According to a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, illegals make up 24 percent of workers in agriculture, 17 percent in cleaning, 14 percent in construction, and 12 percent in food production. So 86 percent of construction workers, for instance, are either legal immigrants or Americans, despite the fact that this is one of the alleged categories of untouchable jobs.The number of immigrants actually doing these jobs is low - a lot of money worth, but still not the vast numbers people seem to believe. Americans are doing these jobs, by and large.
Here's where the big cost hits us. The United States federal government out of a desire to help the needy and assist the poor has a massive, multi-trillion dollar network of programs in place to pay people who do not or cannot pay for things themselves. Taxes are raised from the general public, and the money is distributed to those the people in charge of such organizations believe should have it.
Putting aside how this is unconstitutional and a violation of the 10th amendment of the US Constitution for now, this is a considerable expense to the people of the US in taxes for those who qualify and are citizens of the country. The expense gets even greater when you factor in those who are not.
Over 300,000 pregnant women cross the border annually (or simply become pregnant in the US) according to the Center for Immigration Studies, and with "anchor babies" born as citizens in the US, costing $7,161.00 per child in education from K-12 alone. This total cost exceeds $109 billion annually, and grows each cycle of anchor babies born.
According to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the estimated 100,000 children of illegal immigrants in the county collect $276 million in annual welfare benefits. In Oklahoma alone, illegal immigrants with medical emergencies cost taxpayers almost $10 million last year in Oklahoma, a 154 percent increase since 2003.
According to the Center for Immigrant Studies in 2004, the costs are significant for adults as well as children:
For the period ending June 30, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority paid $9.7 million to treat 4,450 individuals identified as "illegal aliens" -- the federal government's term for people who enter the country without documentation. This compares with $3.8 million to treat 2,054 individuals three years earlier.The lion's share of spending on Medicaid's Alien Emergency Services Program is for labor and delivery costs. Although the breakdown for state fiscal year 2006 is not available yet, in the previous year 84 percent of the $7.8 million spent covered births, said Jo Kilgore, spokeswoman for the health care authority.
Based on Census Bureau data, the study estimates that households headed by illegal aliens used $10 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes in 2002. These figures are only for the federal government; costs at the state and local level are also likely to be significant. Among the largest federal costs: Medicaid ($2.5 billion); treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion); food assistance programs ($1.9 billion); the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion); and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion). The study also finds that if illegals were given amnesty, the fiscal deficit at the federal level would grow to nearly $29 billion.Around 40% of all Illegal immigrants are on welfare in some form or another. This may be food stamps and social security for children or disability by fake documents, it may be anchor babies, it may be Medicaid benefits, or free school lunches or a host of other programs. Billions of dollars a year go to keep illegal immigrants here, pay for their food, housing, and even transportation and education. Some states have even begun to offer grants and treat illegal immigrants living in the state as citizens - all state colleges are cheaper for residents. Extending this benefit to people who aren't even members of the United States is an added cost. New York city even considered extending the vote to non citizens.
COSTS GO ON
Finally, there's the cost to US culture. The United States is a melting pot, a nation formed entirely of immigrants (yes, Virginia, even Native Americans immigrated here). The concept of the United States is to have those from all nations, cultures, and peoples join together to become one nation, united and indivisible. This concept is that all contribute their flavor, their ideas, food, clothes, music, and such to the whole, but become part of the nation in the process.
This process has always been slow, taking 2-3 generations to fully take effect. In the past years, when Emma Lazarus’ "Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." was etched on the Statue of Liberty, immigrants came to the US to be Americans and join the nation. They came to not forget their heritage, but to start a new one in a new land. Immigrants were able to start here and build a life through their efforts and with little interference from government programs.
Further, they could not rely on a ready and constant supply of government bounty to keep them going. Neighborhoods, churches, fellow immigrants, and families helped out when help was needed, and in time these people rose to comfort, status, even influence and power. Since the 1940's and especially the 1960's, this simply is no longer the way it works. Immigrants can rely on government largesse to exist, and have little motivation or pressure to get away from this system.
Further, the immigrants brought with them skills and knowledge that was needed at the time. Steven Malanga at The City online magazine points out:
Though fleeing persecution or economic stagnation in their homelands, that era’s immigrants—Jewish tailors and seamstresses who helped create New York’s garment industry, Italian stonemasons and bricklayers who helped build some of our greatest buildings, German merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans—all brought important skills with them that fit easily into the American economy. Those waves of immigrants—many of them urban dwellers who crossed a continent and an ocean to get here—helped supercharge the workforce at a time when the country was going through a transformative economic expansion that craved new workers, especially in its cities. A 1998 National Research Council report noted “that the newly arriving immigrant nonagricultural work force . . . was (slightly) more skilled than the resident American labor force”: 27 percent of them were skilled laborers, compared with only 17 percent of that era’s native-born workforce.How do today's immigrants compare with those in eras past?
Unlike the immigrants of 100 years ago, whose skills reflected or surpassed those of the native workforce at the time, many of today’s arrivals, particularly the more than half who now come from Central and South America, are farmworkers in their home countries who come here with little education or even basic training in blue-collar occupations like carpentry or machinery. (A century ago, farmworkers made up 35 percent of the U.S. labor force, compared with the under 2 percent who produce a surplus of food today.) Nearly two-thirds of Mexican immigrants, for instance, are high school dropouts, and most wind up doing either unskilled factory work or small-scale construction projects, or they work in service industries, where they compete for entry-level jobs against one another, against the adult children of other immigrants, and against native-born high school dropouts. Of the 15 industries employing the greatest percentage of foreign-born workers, half are low-wage service industries, including gardening, domestic household work, car washes, shoe repair, and janitorial work. To take one stark example: whereas 100 years ago, immigrants were half as likely as native-born workers to be employed in household service, today immigrants account for 27 percent of all domestic workers in the United States.The result is not the same kind of influx of educated, skilled workers who start on their own and work to make a life for themselves. These people tend to work the same jobs as their parents, and the job of assimilating into the US culture, while adding their flavor to the mix, is harder and longer.
What makes matters worse in this sense is that the numbers are vaster than ever in the past. Immigration in the past was a fairly significant number, but slow enough that the people were able to spread through the nation and become Americans. Illegal immigrants are pouring into the nation at the rate of millions and at such a speed that they are not absorbing into our population and nation as easily. There is an actual limit how many immigrants in a specific time period a nation can withstand before they cannot assimilate and actually can begin to affect the nation, changing it to their former lands.
In other words: the US culture is in danger because of this flood of new people. Look at almost any town, anywhere in the USA. There will be at least a section where there are few if any signs in English, few if any who speak English for blocks. In the past a few huge cities would have sections like this - Chinatown still exists in many, for example. The towns and smaller cities were not so affected in most cases.
That's a significant change, one reflected by the capitulation of government in printing everything in Spanish and English. Look at the signs at every government agency in your state, every document. This is not a step toward assimilation, nor is the policy of schools such as some in Oregon that tried alternating between all-Spanish language and English (with some Spanish) every other day during the school year. This is not becoming part of a culture. It is a typical sign of conquering a culture, taking it over.
Another aspect is how illegal immigrants are having an impact on policy and law in a hidden way. The (misleading) estimate by some politicians is that there are 43 million in the US without medical insurance - but of those people, 25% or more are illegal immigrants. This is just one small example of how illegal immigration can affect policy and change the country without attempting to. Basing the need to change something on a problem caused at least in part by people who ought not be here in the first place is a poor way to set policy. Minimum Wage is paid to illegal immigrants (or less), affecting the numbers being paid this - and especially the number of families "trying to live on minimum wage" which is the usual argument for a desperately needed raise.
What should be done? What would be the cost of taking action to reduce illegal immigration and deal with illegal immigrants in the US? That's the meat for another essay entirely. I've been sitting on all this and much more information for a long time, waiting til the fervor and blogstorm died down enough that people might be interested in reading it. For a few months it was wall-to-wall constant illegal immigration screaming on blogs, particularly conservative ones. I understood the interest and the reason, but because of the saturation I actually declared my blog an immigration-free zone for a long time back in May of this year.
This is an issue that we definitely need to deal with, and I have barely scratched the surface of the problems. The debate is not over, and we all need to keep it in mind, especially as the next year starts with a new congress.