Image from the Armenian Genocide | Wikipedia
I am here in America today as a result of the Armenian Genocide, which took place mainly from 1915 to 1917. That moment in history is not widely known or remembered, but it was real, and impacted millions of people. I am also here because relatives immigrated from Norway and England — I can’t say why.
As our country was founded, the majority of the native peoples who lived here were killed or pushed onto reservations. Another portion of our population was brought here against their will as slaves or deported here because they were criminals. Others came because they, and their families, simply and broadly put, did not have enough food or freedom. What would you not do for your family if it was actually hungry?
Today, people still come to our country for opportunities, and many of them get excellent educations and make a lot of money. They build businesses, they file patents, and they probably pay taxes at the lowest rate their accountants can negotiate for them — just like rich people everywhere. What’s less known is that undocumented workers in our country pay over $10 billion in taxes each year.
Among immigrants to America, there are also poor people and criminals. There are people who need emergency medical care and food. That’s no surprise, given the fact that every country in the world has poor people and criminals along with people who get sick or need food.
Pretty much everything that can be said about immigration has been said lately. I want to say something, too. I want to make a contribution to the side of the argument that is pro-immigration.
I want to live in an America where not only are immigrants welcome, loved, and encouraged, but that Native Americans, the ancestors of slaves, and people like the Armenians and now the Syrians, are acknowledged for the wars and genocides they have experienced and the contributions they have made — and continue to make — to the country we live in today.
Our country frustrates and grieves me with all of its economic inequality and violence. I am grateful, though, that ignored though I may be, unheard though my voice probably is, I can at least write and publish these words without fear of reprisal.
And so I will just note a few things that I think are important to know about immigration.
How many immigrants and undocumented workers are there in the United States?
Immigrants in the United States and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 81 million people, or 26 percent of the overall U.S. population.
Mexico, India, and China make up the largest immigrant populations in the United States.
As of 2016, that the number of undocumented workers in the US is estimated at 10.6 million individuals.
Do undocumented workers pay taxes?
As of 2010, it is estimated that undocumented workers pay over $10 billion in taxes each year.
Do undocumented workers pay into social security?
Undocumented workers pay more into social security than they will ever consume in public benefits.
According to CNN, “Take Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), unauthorized immigrants — who are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits — have paid an eye-popping $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.
“They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits,” Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA told CNNMoney. “Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009,” he said.
Do undocumented workers drain our economy?
Undocumented workers are less likely to receive benefits than poor US citizens. However, their citizen children do receive benefits, at a cost of about $14,000 per year per “illegal” household.
However, those children will be contributors to the economy when they reach adulthood.
Do undocumented workers take jobs away from citizens?
On the one hand, undocumented workers create jobs through their entrepreneurial work. On the other hand, undocumented workers fill positions in agriculture, landscaping, healthcare, restaurants, and hotels that US citizens may or may not want to fill. Undocumented workers also pay taxes and social security and spend money in our economy.
It may also be noted that, at least according to some: “For far too long, our broken immigration system has allowed employers to drive down wages and working conditions in our country,” the AFL-CIO says on its website. “The brunt of the impact has been born by immigrant workers, who face the highest rates of wage theft, sexual harassment, and death and injury on the job.”
Do immigrants contribute economically to our country?
According the Atlantic, “A report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, which advocates for immigrants in the U.S. workforce, found that they accounted for 28 percent of all new small businesses in 2011.”
The article goes on to state “… Immigration, on the whole, bolsters the workforce and adds to the nation’s overall economic activity. Look at the impact on cities that attract the most foreign-born residents. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston are all major immigrant destinations and also economic powerhouses, accounting for roughly one-fifth of the country’s gross domestic product. In New York, immigrants made up 44 percent of the city’s workforce in 2011; in and around Los Angeles, they accounted for a third of the economic output in 2007.”
“In 2013, immigration added roughly 0.2 percent to GDP, which translates into $31.4 billion (in 2012 dollars), according to the Economic Report of the President.”
“The average immigrant contributes nearly $120,000 more in taxes than he or she consumes in public benefits (measured in 2012 dollars).”
Some people hate immigrants. Haters are gonna hate. If you are a hater, just be a hater. Don’t try to justify your hatred with ill-conceived arguments that immigrants are a drain on the economy.
And remember: You, or the people who brought you here, are either a slave, a refugee, a deportee, or, that’s right, an immigrant.