One of the biggest misconceptions about undocumented immigrants is that they don’t pay any taxes. In his first address to Congress, President Trump set the tone for his coming immigration agenda when he said immigration costs US taxpayers “billions of dollars a year.”
A 2017 Gallup poll that asked survey respondents “whether immigrants to the United States are making the [tax] situation in the country better or worse” found that 41 percent said “worse,” while only 23 percent said “better” (33 percent said they had “no effect”).
The reality is far different. Immigrants who are authorized to work in the United States pay the same taxes as US citizens. And, contrary to the persistent myth, undocumented immigrants do in fact pay taxes too. Millions of undocumented immigrants file tax returns each year, and they are paying taxes for benefits they can’t even use.
“I learned my lesson not to give up because I could have easily given up,” Naciye said as she recalled recovering from an assault by a former IU student in 2015. “I was almost losing my business.”
Naciye faced numerous hurdles in her recovery, including issues with her back and posture and the recent closing of the business, Sofra Café, due to unpaid taxes. Naciye said her physical therapist taught her to hold her spine straight again after the assault.
Fuentes, 43, now fulfills this aspiration as the Board President at El Centro Comunal Latino and the assistant manager at Old National Bank. Splitting her time between the two jobs is challenging, but she said they give her a sense of fulfillment. They incorporate her love for helping others, specifically the Latino community in Bloomington.
El Centro is a 15-year-old nonprofit that helps the Latino population in Bloomington. The organization offers health programs, translation, tutoring, youth mentoring, cultural competency training and cultural events.
Another factor that often gets a finger pointed at it by critics is immigration — more specifically, undocumented workers. Peruse social media and, among the fictitious claims that the government raided Social Security, you’re bound to find comments claiming that Social Security is being hurt by legal and illegal immigration into the United States.
But is this the case? Let’s have a closer look.
Undocumented workers, by law, can’t qualify for a Social Security number and therefore are ineligible for a retired worker benefit, as well as disability and survivor’s insurance protection. Unless migrants are on a legal path to citizenship and earning lifetime work credits, they won’t qualify for a benefit from either the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust or the Disability Insurance Trust.
However, this doesn’t mean undocumented workers aren’t contributing in some way to the Social Security program. According to AARP, approximately $12 billion in payroll tax revenue (from either the workers or their employers) was collected in 2010 from undocumented migrants.
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Ahmad Damra, a member of the Indiana National Guard, has been identified as the man who yelled “beaners” and “spics” at Hispanic people during a brawl in the bleachers of Wrigley Field. The brawl broke out following the Chicago Cubs 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 23. The game was promoted as “Hispanic Heritage Night” with the crowd being given t-shirts that read, “Los Cubs.” As security guards separating the brawling fans, a woman can be heard telling an official that the guards “will never know what it’s like.” The Chicago Tribune reports that local police were called to investigate the incident but no charges were filed.
The candidates and their campaign advisers undoubtedly are stoking the anti-immigration fires because it’s proven effective in past practice or in polling. But if they want Indiana to grow and prosper, they should back off the fear-mongering. A new report from the Indiana Business Research Center suggests Indiana’s workforce will grow by only 34,000 between 2020 and 2050. The state’s economic future depends on its ability to attract young workers, including legal immigrants.
Matt Kinghorn, senior demographic analyst for the research center, notes the state’s labor force will record a “relatively healthy gain of 120,000 workers between 2010 and 2020” but will likely contract over the next decade as more baby boomers retire. Lower fertility rates affect the labor pool, as well. If rates had held steady to those recorded before the Great Recession, Indiana would see 70,000 more births than are expected in that decade-long span.
Migration is another factor, of course. Indiana saw its population and labor force declining through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, but the trend was reversed with gains in net migration between 1990 and 2010. Hispanic residents moving into the state were responsible for 77 percent of the gain, according to data from the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin.