Immigrants are not ruining our country, the minimum wage is

by David Farside

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The Saturday morning sunshine beckoned the rototil, garden tools and manual labor. The tiller had just started biting into the mulch, churning the winter compost pile into real soil when the phone rang. It was a friend wanting to talk about politics. We don’t discuss politics too often because it seems to separate us for months at a time.

After the usual pleasantries, she started to rant about illegal immigrants from Mexico and how they, in her words, ruined our country. She thought they were a drain on our welfare system, health care, education and society in general. She said they are taking jobs away from American citizens and are responsible for our substandard wages. Her solution was to send them all back to where they came from. She thought we should build a fence on our borders and charge the Mexican government for every one we caught and sent back to Mexico.

I have heard these same arguments for years. On the surface they seem like legitimate concerns. But are they valid arguments?

An article written by David Karjanen, “Putting The Cost Of Illegal Immigration In Perspective” gives us some insight into a different aspect of the cost/benefit debate on immigration.

Karjanen, a professor at the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, said for years he has been looking at the labor market dynamics of immigrants and low-wage workers in California. He said, “Quite frankly, the cost/benefit debate fundamentally misses the point. Costs associated with immigrations should not be seen as cost, per se, but rather subsidies to employers.” And he is right.

He noted that newspaper editorials and elected officials in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas fuel the controversy by stating the states are “under assault” and “inundated” by unauthorized immigrants. And, like my friend, claims they are creating a drain on public funds and services.

Again, on the surface that seems to be true. But is it? A survey in 2002 finds that households headed by undocumented, unskilled immigrants generate $26.3 billion need for government service.

That’s equal to $2,700 per each undocumented household. Compared to only $16 billion they paid in federal taxes, the fiscal deficit is $10 billion.

Interestingly, the public cost for social services for native born households is much higher averaging $3,454 per family. Anyway, I have always been skeptical of statistics like these. If the government knows how much illegal immigrants earn and how much income tax they pay, then why can’t they find them for deportation?

Karjanen sites the misplaced logic that shutting off the flow of immigrants would force employers to hire native-born labor. And by doing so, the wages would rise and public sector cost of undocumented immigrants would be reduced. However, that may not be the case. The reason is, the federal government’s minimum wage standard creates low income families. The working poor, regardless of their citizenship status, will need the same public services as the illegal immigrants. Therefore the cost to the public will be the same.

Retail sales clerks, cashiers, janitors, landscapers and fast food workers would need their wages increased from $8 per hour to $12 or $14 per hour (the rates at which full time workers become ineligible for most public programs) to escape the poverty level. And according to Karjanen that will never happen. He also adds that most low-wage workers on public assistance in this country are native born, not immigrants. And besides, there is no guarantee that native-born citizens would work the immigrants’ current jobs. That’s what created the need for immigrant workers in the first place: Americans didn’t want to get their hands dirty doing menial labor. They would rather go on welfare.

According to Professor Karjanen, we need to take a look at the direction of the U.S. economy. “Immigrants have just become a convenient scapegoat, and a smoke screen for the problem — an economy that isn‘t working for the working poor,” he said. “The public should not be concerned about footing the bill for undocumented immigrants but for low-wage jobs. Getting rid of non-documented immigrants and hiring native-born workers in their place will not solve the problem because any worker making less than $10 per hour will qualify for some form of government assistance.”

What has really ruined our country and created a drain on our welfare system, health care, education and society in general is not illegal immigrants but government subsidies for corporations in the form of welfare to minimum wage earners; allowing businesses to profit by paying low wages, creating a class of the working poor that is supported by the tax payers.

Sending illegal immigrants back to Mexico is not the answer. Immigrant spending accounts for 17 percent of our retail sales. Ironically, the more non-documented workers we send back to Mexico the slower the economy becomes.

The solution is simple: Raise the minimum wage above the poverty level and eliminate the population of the working poor.

Create a program forcing employers of illegal immigrants to sponsor them for citizenship. This will eliminate most of the immigration problem and create more legal citizens. Then, we won’t have to build fences on our border and no one can blame immigrants for ruining our country.

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10 Responses to “Immigrants are not ruining our country, the minimum wage is”

  1. mrcfunds Says:

    Take Back Our Country Song


    Can you please place a link on your website / or blog; to this Take Back Our Country Song it’s a patriotic song that is very inspiring, and truthful. I wrote this song after being fed up with what I see happening in my neighborhood and to our country daily on the news.

    I am just an ordinary citizen that went away to serve at age 19. And I am sick and tired of the lies and chaos our ELECTED SELLOUT OFFICIALS has put this country into. So I wanted to do my part, as a soldier of the USANG, I wrote this song and put it on this video.

    My state Louisiana was hit hard by hurricane Katrina and hundreds of illegal aliens moved into our community took away jobs that we Americans were ready to do, and now crime has gone thru the roof. I am sick and tired of these people in my neighborhood and hanging out on our street corners. WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO PUT A STOP TO THIS!

    Please check out my video Take Back Our Country Song on here’s the link. And FORWARD it to everyone on your email list. This is my way of fighting back and giving back to my country.

    Please, I served my country in the US Army National Guards, and I hate what’s happening to our country. We must do all we can to Take Her Back!

    Thank you,
    Richie Collins

    Take Back Our Country

  2. mo Says:

    you state that illegal immigrants pay $10 billion in federal taxes, how is that if they are payed in cash? how do you find these numbers? The numbers of illegal immigrants in this country is vastly underestimated because they are illegal and unseen. please list your sources for this kind of work.

  3. jim Says:

    This article made sense until it’s final solution.

    Why would raising the minimum wage fix the solution? That would jut cause higher prices for everything else and raise the poverty line again.

    Next, isn’t the program intact not to higher illegal immigrants? But, people are still hiring them and paying them lower wages then minimum wage. Why would people all the sudden want to legalize the immigrants and then have to pay them 10 dollars an hour like you suggest?

    I think you need to restate your conclusion to go along with your article.

  4. Mary Says:

    Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes, they have babies in the US and then go on welfare, food stamps and get low income housing that is for US citizens that need help. Their kids go to school for free, eat free lunches, your taxes pay for this. They don’t have health insurance, so they get free medical care, mostly at hospitals because they can’t be turned down. This is why our hospitals are getting closed down. They don’t have driver’s licenses, don’t pay car insurance and this is why are car insurance is so high. Legal US taxpaying Citizens have to pay for uninsured motorists. They work and get money free and clear. Look at our jails and what will you see??? mostly illegal immigrants! We cannot give them amnesty because who knows what crimes they have committed in other countries? What if they are murderers, child molesters… NO AMNESTY. It’s telling the world come to the US and you can break the law and get a clean start here, no questions asked..The legal US Citizens will pay for your children, your housing, clothes, food and whatever else you need…….They are the reason our economy is so bad..They are not contributing. The only thing they are contributing to is more crime and gang violence, plus there crapping up our cities and nice cities are turning ghetto!!! Shame on the US for making everything convenient for them and putting everything in Spanish… if they want to live here, do it the right way…They have taken over our Country and have already ruined California, Texas, Arizona, it’s only a matter of time before they ruin the entire U.S.A….Again, how are they helping our economy when they don’t pay taxes??? Legal American Citizens are losing their homes because of these people. They have no rights and they are criminals….If Mexico is so bad then why do we go there on vacation!!

  5. Gary Says:

    I’ve been reading what some people have to say about illegal immigrants and how they down their fellow Americans for wanting to put a stop to this madness. I’m wondering how many of these people have really been effected by these immigrants no matter if the immigrants are from Mexico,Asia,Russia or any other country.I would be willing to guess none of these (supporters)have lost a job or their home due to these illegals.In fact I’d say most of these supporters have made profit off these illegals and that’s why their in support of them,how patriotic of them.I find myself at constant battle with illegals taking work from my company. I run a bricklaying outfit,I do residential work and my largest competitor is immigrants.We only have a small amount of homes to brick now that the economy is so poor and our government has allowed 30 million or more immigrants from Mexico alone to come over to help us build the homes.Not to mention the illegals from other counties that I have not heard an exact number on.But I know there are others such as Russians because I’ve worked right beside them and asked where they were from and was told Russia, from them.I’ve had immigrants ask me for work and they wanted the same pay as American citizens get, so I don’t know where you find the ones working for minimum wage.Well it looks like I may be folding up my bussiness very soon due to no work thanks to the Mexican’s who only take the jobs American’s like me don’t want.It’s our country and we want it back !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Gary Says:

    It’s simple we had our country running great our economy was fantastic new homes were being built all over people were living comfortably other countries so this and wanted a piece of the action (understandably).So they started filtering in from all across the globe seeking a chance to get a piece of the pie. At first it really didn’t seem to be a problem.But its kind of like dealing with a (well) when you have a fresh new well dug and you’ve hit an amount of water that you can’t see but it seems to be a endless amount you don’t mind sharing with your neighbors. But then your water supply starts running slow and you know its getting shallow it’s time for your neighbors to get their water else where. You now have to tell your neighbors to go back to their own land and dig their own well, Sure you understand their situation of not having their own water (but) you can’t let your family go without water due to your neighbors misfortune. Now,if your neighbor begins taking the water right in front of your face or behind your back knowing your well is running dry and that your family is soon to do without.Now that’s just isn’t a good neighbor is it.

  7. joe Says:

    Good job Mary, I guess the word elegal does not mean anything anymore so can we all just go out and break the law and have our police turn there heads and say oh your just pickin on them when there parked in my paid parking spot. How about now is it hurting our country Now that theres no work ?

  8. Gary Says:

    Things are only going to get worst.These bailouts are not going to solve the problem with our economy, as long as we have millions of immigrants sending money back to their homeland to help support their people back home. Am I the only person who thinks that having at least 40 million dollars a day leaving our economy is screwing things up? If each immigrant from Mexico alone, sends home 1$ per day that’s 40 million dollars a day .If 40 million immigrants from Mexico isn’t correct the rest of immigrants we have here from other countries will surely make up the difference, if not surpass it. These companies we are bailing out will just need bailed out again and again, until we find another solution, I don’t see an end to it. Bottom line (we can’t employ the world) doing so is taking us down with the countries that can’t make it on their own. Just like the countries all these immigrants are coming from. I am a brick mason and to be perfectly honest I’m scared. Back in the early 90’s I ran a 17 man crew I’m now running a 2 man crew and struggling to work. Being helpful to another country is one thing but letting it destroy our economy is another. I realize that you people that are not directly effected by this yet are not seeing the problem as I do, because it’s not your job, family or home in trouble. BUT you may see it in the future,because I’ve been reading that some people want our government to build and our tax dollars to support a school just for the immigrants so they can take your job’s, just like their doing to us construction worker’s now!!

  9. Erwin tipton Says:

    I agree , the illeagle aliens are a burnden on the american people , Some but no all bring std,s into our country .Anyone who says there not taking jobs and benafits away from americans are not true americans. I live on the west side of costa mesa and we have a real problem with illeagle aleins . theyll pack 2 to 5 familys in one house or apartments and allmost everyone living there has 1 or more cars and trucks , you cant even go to the store and come back and park in front of your own home. And they use our street as car sales lots. when they have there partys every week they leave broken beer bottles all over the streets and sidewalks.and the partys they have they conspire on ways to have american homes taken away so they can move in after the city and state takes it away by reasons of public nuesence and making complaints to code inforcement . The california state police really dont care for american becouse the illeagle aleins keeps there job sucured .A hispanic lady acrossed the street from me illeagly had her roofs rebuilt and added on new aditions to her rentle apts ,well more illeagle aliens moved in and there less parking than ever , as for my job , I have angreement with the local plumbing shops in my eara , As long as I keep there parking lot clean , sweeping the parking with a broom , and throwning the old nasty staff infect toilets in the dumpsters I get the washers and dryer and old hott water tank to recycle for cash , Well for a few years that was going well . but the illeagle aleins drive threw and steel my metal , so in others word there steeling my money , when i catch them the sometime comeback and try to steel again , but the really bad ones are the one when i catch them and take pictures of them , They load there trucks up with trash aka matresses couches and tires ect ,, the illeagle aliens know I have the agreement with the shops thats why they dump there trash in retalation , I SURE WISH COSTA MESA POLICE WOULD PULL THEM OVER WHEN THE ILLEAGLE ALIENS ARE DRIVING IN MY NABORHOOD STEELING METAL AND IF THEY DONT HAVE A DRIVER LIC, DEPORT THEM AND IMPOUND THE VEHICLES ,

  10. Erwin tipton Says:

    I want to state for the record . I have had some bad run ins with illegal aliens like my last posts says .. But that does not mean all hispanic and mexican people are bad . Its the illegal aliens that are making the hispanic and mexican people look bad. Most of my best friends are hispanic and mexican and there real good people . I forgot to state that in my first post . So if anybody was offended by that ,I am trully sorry for that .

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