2016 election

I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Immigration: Debunking the Racist, the Ignorant, and the False

The headline in today’s Washington Post reads: In Debate, Romney and Giuliani Clash on Immigration Issues. Staff writers Michael D. Shear and Dan Balz began their coverage of the Republican candidates’ CNN/YouTube debate with a blow-by blow account of Romney’s and Giuliani’s sorry attempts to out-tough one another last night on the immigration issue:

“Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani immediately set the tone for the combative event, using the first question to continue a weeks-long feud they have waged on the campaign trail. Each accused the other of ignoring laws against illegal immigration and distorting one another's record on the issue.

“Giuliani accused Romney of having a "sanctuary mansion" by employing illegal immigrants as lawn workers and of being "holier than thou" on the issue. Romney accused Giuliani of ignoring the laws and of welcoming illegal immigrants to New York. "That's the wrong attitude," Romney charged in a lengthy, heated exchange.”

Their “heated exchange” ignited a few sparks in the numerous comments from readers that followed. For example, one reader first linked to http://goupstate.us/index.php/lanefiller/2007/11/14/the_illegal_immigrant_next_door before beginning his rant:

“This link is to a column that presents the same bleeding heart position that we always hear. "Illegals are people too" is the point of the article and for America to welcome them in droves signifies some kind of moral progress on our part. Well, that's bullsh!t. Plenty of people in this world are born in indesireable countries into undesireable cultures with few opportunities. Why don't we just have them all come over? Forget about the actual Americans that pay taxes and whose ancestors built this country. After all, "immigrants built this country too;" another favorite platitude of the bleeding hearts. We are not displaying our morals by welcoming millions illegals from the Third World and letting them engulf our resources, infrastructure, and culture. We are displaying our unbelievable stupidity because if we don't stop it soon, America will cease to exist as we know it. It will just be a Balkanized mess overrun by Third-World uneducated dregs. But I suppose that racist of me to say, right?”

The above statements are not only racist, but also ignorant and completely false. Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights has published a well-documented fact sheet on immigration and the economy that debunks such popular myths about our nation’s immigrant population (for the complete fact sheet and its sources, go here):

Our Immigration System Is Incompatible With Our Economy

“Research shows that the economy readily absorbs these new additions {undocumented persons}, yet they remain without immigration status.”

Immigrants Pay Taxes and Contribute to Social Security

“Immigrants stimulate the U.S. economy by paying sales, property, and income taxes…undocumented workers who do not have a Social Security Number are able to file income taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)…A study in 2005 found that undocumented immigrants pay $6-7 billion in Social Security taxes that they will never able to claim. Another recent study indicates that a reduction in legal immigration would devastate the Social Security System, into which new legal immigrants will contribute over $611 billion over the next 75 years.”

Immigrants Do Not Take Jobs Away From U.S. Workers

“Immigrants make unique contributions to the U.S. economy by creating new jobs through entrepreneurship, filling jobs for which there are no qualified U.S. workers, and taking positions that would otherwise be shipped overseas or replaced with computers. …A letter written in June 2006 signed by over 500 top economists reads ‘The American economy can create as many jobs as there are workers willing to work so long as labor markets remain free, flexible and open to all workers on an equal basis.”’

Immigration’s Effects on Wages Are Minimal

“On average, immigration raises U.S.-born workers’ wages slightly.”

Undocumented Immigrants Are Not Eligible For Public Benefits

“Immigrants are largely excluded from receiving public assistance…The only service for which temporary and undocumented immigrants are eligible is emergency medical care…Providing such assistance regardless of immigration status upholds the American value of protecting life and preventing unnecessary pain and suffering.”

Providing Education to All Children Benefits Society

“ A Supreme Court decision in 1982, Plyler v. Doe, held that governments must provide the same free public education to undocumented children as they provide to other children. This decision was based on the desire to prevent a permanent underclass and to avoid punishing children for actions of their parents. …parents of undocumented children pay taxes that support the educational system and the community, just as other parents do.

Immigration Keeps the U.S. Competitive in a Global Economy

“Low-skilled immigrants complement the skills of the current labor force and are preventing negative growth rates in aging communities. High-skilled immigrants account for about half of the Ph.D. engineers, life scientists, physical scientists, and math and compute scientists in the U.S. Forty-four of the first one hundred Nobel prizes awarded to American researchers went to immigrants or their children. With immigration comes motivation and innovation – it fuels our nation!”

It’s unfortunate that both Romney and Giuliani have flip-flopped on the immigration issue for political reasons since deciding to run for the presidency. It would be good if all candidates first did a little research and became familiar with the facts before taking similar right-wing positions. The lives of many U.S. residents - undocumented or otherwise - are at stake, as well as the values that have made America great.

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