A lot of what people think they know about immigrants is untrue. Here are some well documented facts instead…

Immigrants and Taxes

The well documented facts evidence that undocumented immigrants have paid hundreds of billions of dollars in American taxes to date. In most cases undocumented immigrants pay more in tax each year than similarly situated U.S. citizens.” They pay billions of dollars in federal, state, local, unemployment, medicare, social security, excise, and sales taxes among others. Not only that, since they are not eligible for most tax benefits (such as Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, federal housing programs, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, unemployment insurance, the EITC and the Economic Stimulus Tax Credit)  directed at the working poor, undocumented immigrants provide a huge windfall to our country’s tax coffers. The above figures are gathered from such sources as the Internal Revenue Service, and the Social Security Administration,  (source: The Undocumented Immigrant Tax by Francine J. Lipman)

Resident aliens must file income tax returns. In order to do that they will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) number. They can find out related information on the IRS website here and about the ITIN on this page.

Immigrants Make Good Neighbors

“Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that, in fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or to be behind bars than are the native-born. This is true for the nation as a whole, as well as for cities with large immigrant populations such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami, and cities along the U.S.-Mexico border such as San Diego and El Paso.” (source The El Paso Miracle)

Immigrants and the Economy

For the US as a whole, the immediate negative effects of eliminating the undocumented workforce would include an estimated

  • $1.757 trillion in annual lost spending,
  • $651.511 billion in annual lost output, and
  • 8.1 million lost jobs

Over time this would result in:

  • $244,971,000,000 lower GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – our economic output
  • $551,569,000,000 lower personal income
  • $70,774,000,000 less in retail sales

(source: The Perryman Group, An Essential Resource: An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Undocumented Workers on Business Activity in the US with Estimated Effects by State and by Industry, April 2008).

The current cost of incarcerating immigrants in the U.S. is between $27 billion and $28 billion per year.

Immigrants and Employment

“Unions have played an important role in raising pay in many areas, including some blue-collar jobs… Although undocumented immigrants are legally permitted to join unions, in practice unscrupulous employers have frequently found ways to take advantage of the status of undocumented workers to thwart their efforts.” (source Immigrants and the Economy report by the Fiscal Policy Institute) my conclusion: employers use anti-union and anti-immigrant sentiment to keep wages as low as possible for all workers.

Foreign born workers have strong financial incentives to immigrate. “Simply by moving to the United States, the worker’s annual income would rise by 2.5 times, even after controlling for cost-of-living differences between the two countries.” (source Michael Clemons, Claudio Montenegro, and Lant Pritchett, “The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers across the US Border,” (source Working Paper No. 148, Center on Global Development, Washington, DC, December 2008)

Immigrants and Employers

“In many industries, when it comes to undocumented workers, employers routinely violate labor laws—including wage and hour laws and workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance requirements.” (source The Fiscal Policy Institute, Immigrants and the Economy)

Immigrant Population Facts

Q) What percent of Detroit Hispanics are foreign born?
A) Foreign born Hispanics comprise about 1.34% of the Detroit population as of the last period surveyed (source, the 2005-07 American Community Survey
Q) What percent of Michigan workers are foreign born?
A) Foreign born workers “currently constitute less than 2.5% of our state’s labor force, among the lowest in the nation.” (source Pew Hispanic Center)
Q) In the United States what percent of the foreign born are undocumented?
A) The breakdown of the total foreign born population is…

  • Legal permanent residents: 28%
  • Naturalized citizens: 31%
  • Undocumented migrants: 30%
  • Post 1980 refugee arrivals: 7%
  • Temporary legal residents: 4%

(source Pew Hispanic Center)

Immigration Myths Debunked

Here is a link to a myth-debunking article by Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, and who served as commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000.