The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The truth about immigration and immigrant workers

Exposing the myths shows why U.S.-born workers should support legalization for immigrants

Published May 1, 2010 7:56 AM

Myth: Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes

Fact: Two-thirds of undocumented workers pay Medicare, Social Security and personal income taxes. Meanwhile, they are denied food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid and Medicare. In 2005, when there was a Social Security surplus (before the government “borrowed” money to pay for war, creating a crisis) 10 percent of the surplus ($50 billion) came from undocumented immigrants. They pay sales taxes and property tax through rent. The National Research Council says that each immigrant contributes $80,000 more in taxes than they ever receive back.

Fact: Most corporations, banks and military war profiteers pay almost no taxes at all. Goldman Sachs, with profits of billions this year, will pay 1 percent tax.

Fact: Immigrants paid $90 billion in taxes in 2006 and received only $5 billion back in services.

Myth: Immigrants are a drain on the economy

Fact: Professor Ford of the University of Tennessee, an expert on immigration and taxes, states undocumented workers contributed $428 billion dollars to the country’s gross domestic product in 2006.

Fact: When Riverside, N.J., passed laws against undocumented people and called in Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigrants fled the town, causing the local economy to collapse. These laws were repealed and immigrants were urged to return.

Myth: Making immigrants illegal helps native-born workers

Fact: For 100 years after the Civil War, Black workers in the South were locked out of decent jobs, had no political rights and lived in terror. This was called Jim Crow, similar to what immigrants face today.

Black workers were paid extremely low wages and white workers received low wages as well. The South had the lowest wages for both Black and white workers compared to other U.S. regions. The lower wages of Black workers brought down whites’ wages. The legacy of racism was poverty for all. We have to bring up the bottom, or the bosses will lower the top.

Fact: Jim Crow racism was used to bust unions then, and anti-immigrant raids serve the same purpose today. Black workers were at first denied jobs in steel by the bosses and the union supported this racist policy. When steelworkers went on strike to unionize in 1919, the bosses brought in Black workers as scabs. During the 1930s, when the United Steel Worker Organizing Committee and the Congress of Industrial Organizations opened the doors to Black workers, the union finally succeeded.

Fact: In Iowa in 2008, ICE agents raided the Postville Agriprocessor Plant, where the Food and Commercial Workers union was organizing. They arrested 389 workers, including union leaders, and the campaign was crushed.

Myth: Immigrants are taking jobs away

Fact: We are losing jobs. Why? 1) Because companies are using the technology our labor financed to hire fewer workers; 2) because companies are allowed to run away and given tax breaks and subsidies with our tax dollars to do this; 3) because U.S. “free trade” agreements (a handout to U.S. companies) cut U.S. jobs and destroyed rural economies, in Mexico, for example; 4) because our tax dollars are used to lay off workers. General Motors got billions in bailouts and then shut 20 plants, cut wages and benefits. Why wasn’t the bailout dependent on a no-layoff clause? Now GM has opened the first nonunion plant in Michigan.

Fact: It is the capitalist system of profit that is responsible, not immigrants.

Myth: The govt. is passing anti-immigrant legislation to protect native-born workers.

Fact: That’s baloney. The government is attacking every right of workers and collaborating with big business and the banks to bust unions, close plants, stores and offices. We need a national Jobs for All program.

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