Here are five myths about undocumented [illegal] immigrants, and why they’re wrong. CNN.money 11/20/14. (Editor’s Note: This is part two of our refutation of this article. We dealt with the first two “myths” in the previous fact check. Now we deal with the last three “myths.”)
Myth #3: They Drain the System. Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. . . . Also, undocumented immigrants are eligible for schooling and emergency medical care. But most economists see providing these benefits as an investment for the future, when these children become workers and taxpayers.
Fact Check: As noted in our previous post, the Heritage Foundation found that illegal aliens annually consume $54.5 billion more in services at all levels of government that they pay in taxes. Defenders of illegal aliens often reply that children of illegal aliens born in America are responsible for a large share of these costs. Under current interpretation of the law they are defined as American citizens, and thus qualify for all benefits available to citizens. The defenders claim that because the young people are citizens, it is not appropriate to classify the costs they incur to illegal immigration. This argument is disingenuous to say the least. First of all, they would not be here if their parents had not entered our country illegally. Their costs are the direct consequence of that lawbreaking. Secondly, no one can honesty argue that the illegal parents aren’t benefitting themselves when their citizen children receive benefits.
The defenders also maintain that public education for the children of illegal aliens, both those born here and in their parents’ countries origin, should be counted as a fiscal asset—rather than a liability—because it is an “investment” to provide future benefits for our society. In truth, it is a very poor investment which offers little if any future net gain.
Children of illegal aliens often have limited English proficiency, which makes it more costly to educate them than American-born pupils. Also, educating them diverts limited funding from the education of U.S.-born children—which will diminish their future job opportunities and ability to pay taxes. In many of the school districts with large numbers of illegal aliens, the U.S.-born children are often disadvantaged to begin with. When the children of illegal aliens graduate they will be competing in a job market where wages levels have been stagnant for decades. Continuing mass immigration, legal and illegal, significantly contributes to this depression of wages.
Myth # 4: They take American jobs. The American economy needs immigrant workers. The belief that immigrants take jobs that can otherwise be done by hard-working Americans has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data.
Fact check: Some data illegal alien defenders commonly don’t cite is that with a few exceptions such as agriculture, native-born Americans are the majority of workers in all job categories. Thus when illegal aliens enter those fields, it is patently false to say they are doing jobs Americans refuse to do. Furthermore, there is no shortage of native-born Americans of working age who are not employed. Their numbers have increased in recent years, while the employment immigrants (legal and illegal) has surged. A low-wage economy discourages many Americans—particularly those who are at the lower end of our economic scale—from entering the labor force, and once again immigration contributes to this situation.
A final rebuttal to the claim that we “need more immigrant workers” is the impending surge of automation in coming decades. According to a study done at Oxford University, within twenty years nearly half of the jobs in the U.S. now done by people will be automated. As part of this trend, increased mechanization of agriculture will offer a means to end dependence on foreign farm hands. With machines doing so many jobs, there will be less justification than ever for the claim that we need “more foreign workers.”
Myth # 5: It’s just a matter of following the law. Many Americans want immigrants to enter the country legally. But under current laws, there are very few options for legal immigration . . . the wait for any kind of status is long and frustrating.
Fact Check: Legal immigration, running at around one million a year, is hardly restricted. Indeed it is excessive. In any case, it is not America’s duty to provide for the convenience of foreigners who want to come here. A sensible immigration policy is one based on what serves the interests and needs of our country.