Forget sanctuary cities. We need a sanctuary economy.
A recent study of Census data from real estate broker Redfin shows that household wealth grows fastest in places with big immigrant populations. In the 20 fastest growing metropolitan areas from 2012-15, one in five people are immigrants. The bottom metros? Just one in 20.
Trump may want a yuge, beautiful wall to “make America First,” but the immigrants he wants to kick out are paying the taxes to build it — not Mexico. And immigrants are the thing keeping our workforce and economy growing through at least 2035, according to a new Pew Research study.
Unlike Trump, illegal immigrants pay taxes every year
By his own admission, self-proclaimed billionaire Donald Trump didn’t pay federal income taxes for several years because he is “smart.” Thanks to leaked pages from his 2005 return — which he may have leaked himself because they’re marked “client copy” — we know he paid $38 million at least that year, but little else. He refuses to say whether he paid taxes in any other year since 1995.
We have better data on the taxes undocumented immigrants pay. For starters, $11.7 billion a year in state and local taxes, including about $7 million in sales and excise tax, $3.6 billion in property tax, and $1.1 billion in personal income tax, according to research by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The conservative thinktank Heritage Foundation comes up with an even higher number: $17.6 billion. (They also claim immigrants get more back in benefits than that, but admit most of it goes to the American-born — and thus, American — children of illegal immigrants in the form of education.)
The IRS makes it easy for people without a Social Security number to pay federal income and payroll taxes, too, using something called an Individual Tax Identification Number. “In 2010, about 3 million people paid over $870 million in income taxes using an ITIN, and according to the IRS, ITIN filers pay $9 billion in payroll taxes annually,” according to The Atlantic.
Immigrants working with fake Social Security numbers are also funding the retirement of all the baby boomers calling for a wall. Any earnings withheld from paychecks for Social Security that’s tied to an unknown SSN gets set aside in a fund called the Earnings Suspense File. It’s roughly $13 billion a year, and undocumented immigrants will never benefit from it.
Additionally, ITEP notes, undocumented immigrants pay a higher average tax rate (8 percent) than the top 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent). Where’s the wall to keep the billionaires out?
There’s no proof they take jobs anybody else wants
For most of the past 50 years, baby boomers were the driving force behind the growth of the American workforce and the economy. Now they’re old and retiring. Between that and a low birth rate, immigrants are increasingly filling the void.
Says Pew Research: “[Immigration] was a negligible source of growth in the 1960s but grew in importance after the 1965 immigration law opened visa eligibility to people from a wider variety of nations than the traditional European countries of origin. By the mid-1990s, immigration had surpassed growth in the number of U.S.-born adults with U.S.-born parents as a source of the increase in the nation’s potential labor force.”
Without immigration, we would already be in decline…
The data also show that “currently, foreign-born men are somewhat more likely to work [or look for work] than all U.S.-born men.”
Other recent Pew research shows that immigrants don’t dominate any particular industry. The industries with the largest share of undocumented immigrant workers according to the Census data Pew looked at are “private households” — maids — farms, textile manufacturers, and construction. Not exactly high-skill, high-wage, high-demand work. They’re some of the most labor-intensive fields in America, jobs that nobody wants to do.
In fact, Trump’s crackdown on immigrants is causing Oregon farmers to freak out about a labor shortage. “There are not a lot of people looking for work – legal or illegal,” fourth-generation cherry farmer Ken Bailey told The Oregonian. Bailey, who hires hundreds of workers every year, added: “If you take the illegals out there are not going to be enough.”
When you look at specific jobs where the share of immigrants is high, the trend is even more obvious…
Nobody else wants to do people’s nails or scrub toilets. Taking those jobs away from undocumented immigrants is not going to Make America Great Again.
The fundamental problems with jobs are the things Trump and Republicans refuse to tackle — offshoring and automation in the name of profit margins, infrastructure, affordable housing, the costs of education and health care. They are not bugaboos like illegal immigrants or moral decline.
An easy example: Silicon Valley keeps adding high-paying jobs, but real estate and infrastructure can’t keep pace, so more people are leaving than coming in. You can’t deregulate or tax-cut your way out of that, and blaming Obama won’t go far. But those are the only ideas we ever get from Republicans anymore, and they obstruct everything else.
Make America Great Again with real immigration reform
A real “jobs president” would look for ways to bolster legal immigration, not run everyone off.
More immigrants means more tax revenue, allowing for new spending or lower taxes for everyone at the current level of spending. It means more jobs — more homes needed, more mouths to feed, more spending on virtually everything — with immigrants more likely to take on the work nobody else wants.
According to the data, most immigrants are hardworking people making meaningful contributions to society. Yes, there are some terrible, lazy, incompetent moochers who can barely speak English — but the same could be said of American presidents.
Article last modified on April 19, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .