Monday, August 9, 2010

My VERY Unpopular View On Illegal Immigration (Please don't shoot me or my tiny Giraffe!)

I am sure that if I were someone with a lot of readers I would get a TON of hate mail after this post but I just can’t keep quiet. I feel that being a social worker gives me a different perspective to put on the table. Plus, I don’t understand this outright anger and hatred that I see directed towards illegal immigrants. Also, I am not saying that nothing needs to change. I just believe we should take a more compassionate approach. After all, this country was created by immigrants. Unless you are a Native American you ancestry is made up of immigrants.

I often wonder to myself if those who are the most vocal about the issue have ever spent any real time with illegal immigrants. My suspicion is that the answer to that question is no, except for maybe the lawn guy that they gladly pay only $30 do the lawn knowing (whether they want to admit it or not) that he is an illegal immigrant and that is why he is charging $30 and not $100 like more professional lawn services would charge. More on that later.

The biggest problem most people have with illegal immigrants centers around taxes. It is often believed that illegal immigrants pay absolutely no taxes what so ever. While this might be true on the federal level there are still local sales taxes and property taxes that they pay just like citizens do. For those that are not aware, Texas does not have a state income tax. We have chosen to pay local sales taxes that usually hover around 8-9%. Then we pay property taxes that fund our local schools and other local and state expenses. Therefore it is not possible to get away with not paying taxes on a state level. That means that the illegal immigrants who are sending their children to school are NOT getting free ride in the public school system because whether they rent or own the property that they live on they are paying property taxes (believe me, the landlords and leasing companies are not picking up that tab whether you are illegal or legal). These property taxes and local sales taxes also help fund the County Hospitals where a lot of the illegal immigrants get the “free medical care” they allegedly get. These local sales taxes and property taxes also partially fund Medicaid and other welfare programs in the state of Texas.

As far as federal taxes I don’t know what the answer is. Almost all of the illegal immigrants I have talked to have no problem paying federal taxes they just don’t know how to go about doing it with out the risk of deportation. They didn’t come here with a grand scheme of tax evasion. They came here desperate to make a better life for their family. And while many will cry “it’s the principle of the matter,” let’s face it; what they would be paying in income taxes is pretty menial considering the horribly low wages they earn. What most illegal immigrants would pay in a lifetime of federal income taxes is not even 1% of what quite a few people get in tax breaks every year.

Then let’s looks how almost everyone benefits from the low pay that illegal immigrants get. Lawn care, construction, immigrant farming, restaurant service, and house cleaning are all just some of the areas where a large portion of illegal immigrants work for lower than standard wages. Some of this goes on behind the scenes so that we aren’t overtly aware of the fact that we are paying less for services and products thanks to an illegal immigrant who is willing to take less pay than the average American. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are not in some ways benefiting from illegal immigration.

You also have to look at why they have come here. They come here out of desperation. Are they living the American Dream once they get here? NO! They make little to no money and barely just get by and yet this is better than where they came from! Really stop and think about that for a moment. You work for minimum wage, or less, doing hard labor for well over 8 hours a day and often 7 days a week. You most likely rent a house or an apartment that is in disrepair. Your kids may have health care but you do not. If you are sick or hurt you deal with it and go to work anyway. And all of this is BETTER than where you came from! If you were living in a situation where no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t make enough money to feed, house, and clothe your family what would YOU do? You could do nothing or you could cross the border into a country that has EVERYTHING and promises the American Dream.

Also, let’s not forget that it’s not quick, easy or cheap to become an American Citizen. I think some people have the idea that you go through a process much like we go through to get a driver license to become an American Citizen, but this is not the case. It is a long drawn out and expensive process that many with college degrees find daunting. So imagine if you are from another country just desperate for a better life for your family.

I don’t expect to have changed anyone’s mind on the issue but I hope that I have shown some folks a different perspective, one of compassion and understanding.

Tiny Giraffe Kisses To Everyone!

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