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February/2006 - By Juan J Miret

Who are these people we call immigrants?
They could be our parents, our grandparents, our teachers, our friends, our doctors, our policemen, our waiter, our cook, our babysitter, our gardener, our lawyer, our favorite actor, actress, or sports hero, our tax prep specialist.
Immigrants permeate the fabric of America. They are an integral part of our society.

Immigrants make this country great. The Land of FREEDOM.

Anti-immigration groups, for example “minutekids” a.ka. “minuteman”, in their efforts to further restrict immigration and oppose any positive reforms to our immigration system, often propagate myths to support their racist agenda FULL of lies, FULL of hate, FULL of racism.


Myth Number 1:
Immigrants take jobs away from Americans.


It is not true that immigrants take jobs away from Americans. Here’s why:

* Immigrants do not increase unemployment among natives.

A study by economists Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway, and Stephen Moore found that states with relatively high immigration actually experience low unemployment. The economists believed that it is likely immigration opens up many job opportunities for natives. They wrote, “First, immigrants may expand the demand for goods and services through their consumption. Second, immigrants may contribute to output through the investment of savings they bring with them. Third, immigrants have high rates of entrepreneurship, which may lead to the creation of new jobs for U.S. workers. Fourth, immigrants may fill vital niches in the low and high skilled ends of the labor market, thus creating subsidiary job opportunities for Americans. Fifth, immigrants may contribute to economies of scale in production and the growth of markets.”

* Even in particular sectors of the economy, the evidence of a negative impact of immigrants on natives is limited. A review of studies by Jeffrey Passel of the Urban Institute found that the majority find no more evidence of displacement than is revealed by the aggregate data. Even studies of more highly skilled occupations, like registered nurses.

* Immigrants fill places at the high and low ends of the labor market. This will be increasingly important in the future. As the U.S. population ages, many skilled workers and professionals will retire, leaving gaps for employers. Meanwhile, as jobs in the skilled professions become more attractive, natives will continue the trend of gaining higher levels of education and abandoning lower skilled jobs. (Today, less than 10 percent of native-born Americans have not completed high school.) That will create gaps at the lower end of the job market, as the demand in health care, hospitality, and other service jobs increases as the U.S. population ages.

Myth Number 2:
Most immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy or treasury.



* EVERYONE who works in the United States are required to pay federal income taxes. The only exception is if they are exempted due to their level of earnings, a provision of the tax code that results in no taxes, or a bilateral tax treaty.

* Significant total taxes are paid by immigrants. Immigrant households paid an estimated $133 billion in direct taxes to federal, state, and local governments, EVERY YEAR.

* State level tax payments approximate natives. Immigrants in New York State pay over $18 billion a year in taxes, over 15 percent of the total, and roughly proportional to 3 their size in the state’s population, according to a study by the Urban Institute. Average annual tax payments by immigrants are approximately the same as native. $6,300 for immigrants versus $6,500 natives.

* Long-run benefit. The National Academy of Sciences concluded that “Over the long run an additional immigrant and all descendants would actually save the taxpayers $80,000.”
YES, YOU’RE WELCOME “minute kids”!!


* The report by the National Academy of Sciences also found that immigrants benefit the U.S. economy overall, have little negative effect on the income and job opportunities of most native-born Americans, and may add as much as $10 billion to the economy each year. As a result, the report concluded, most Americans enjoy a healthier economy because of the increased supply of labor and lower prices resulting from immigration.


Myth Number 3:
Immigrants aren’t really interested in becoming part of American society.



* Immigrants identify with America. “Nearly 70 percent of foreign-born Hispanics say they identify more with the United States than with their country of origin,” according to the New York Times/CBS News poll. Only 16 percent, including those here fewer than 5 years, said they identify more closely with their native country.

* Immigrants believe in the American Dream. A CNN/USA Today poll reported that more immigrants than natives believe that hard work and determination are the keys to success in America, and that fewer immigrants than natives believe that immigrants should be encouraged to “maintain their own culture more strongly.”

* Immigrant children learn English. For example in San Diego 90 percent of second-generation immigrant children speak English well or very well, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. In Miami the figure is 99 percent!!!!!!!!!


* Naturalization rates rising. Statistics from the 2000 census indicate a steady rise in the naturalization rates of immigrants.

* Immigrants want to become proficient in English. Reports from throughout the United States indicate that the demand for classes in English as a second language far outstrips supply. Data from fiscal year 2000 indicate that 65 percent of immigrants over the age of five who speak a language other than English at home speak English “very well” or “well”.

* Immigrants learn English.


Finally, I wonder what the “minutekids” will think about these facts, taken from the U.S. Department of Defense:

* More than 60,000 immigrants serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

* Immigrants make up nearly 5 percent of all enlisted personnel on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

* Nearly 7 percent of U.S. Navy enlisted personnel are immigrants.

Historically immigrants have made significant contributions to the defense of America:

* More than 20 percent of the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor in U.S. wars have been immigrants, a total of 716 of the 3,406 Medal of Honor recipients have been immigrants.

* 500,000 immigrants fought in the Union Army during the Civil War.

* A special regimental combat team made up of the sons of Japanese immigrants was the most decorated of its size during World War II.

* On July 3, 2002, President Bush recognized the contributions of immigrants in the U.S. Armed Forces by signing an executive order that provided for “expedited naturalization” of noncitizen men and women serving on active-duty since September 11, 2001. The order granted some 15,000 members of the U.S. military who served fewer than three years the right to apply for expedited citizenship in recognition of their service.

I guess no more comments are needed.

By: JUAN J MIRET


To discuss about myths on immigration, or to leave your comments about the issue, visit our forum

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