A Day Without Immigrants...but not their costs?
Guest posting by Christopher
On May 1st the activist leaders of the immigrant community, both legal and illegal, are planning a nationwide protest called, “A Day Without Immigrants”. This is supposed to show the magnitude of the economic impact of the immigrant community here in the United States.
To be a true demonstration of the economic impact any "Day Without Immigrants" will have to consider the economic costs of this type of immigration. On the day of this “protest”, will depressed low skill wages rise? Will we not need to expend that day’s share of the nearly $6 billion a year spent on incarcerating illegals guilty of crimes? Will these immigrants forgo the slice of the nearly $22 billion in welfare assistance? Will they reimburse taxpayers for the education subsidy that goes to educate the children of illegals? Or what about one of the largest costs--the cost of subsidized healthcare? Will the immigrant community somehow reimburse America enough to reopen all the emergency rooms that had to close due to immigrants using them as family practice clinics with no intent to pay? [Rossputin wonders: Or can we at least turn away all illegals from emergency rooms for the day?]
The facts are that immigrants add a small fraction to the economy. Estimates run from as low as $15 billion to as much as $400 billion. Even at the highest estimate these numbers represent a mere pittance of a $12.47 trillion dollar economy.
The real truth behind mass immigration from Latin America is that we have subsidized low skilled labor for a variety of industries in this country. The taxpayer picks up the expenses that would normally be paid for by workers. Some argue that illegals pay massive taxes. That is hardly likely as even those who do try and pay are taxed at the lowest rates and pay little or no taxes. They are even likely to qualify for welfare in the form of the earned income tax credit. [Note from Rossputin: I don’t have the numbers, but given that many illegals sign up for work with a (fake) Social Security number, I would bet that they do pay a substantial amount in payroll taxes, which they will never recover. That said, I absolutely agree that there is a massive and widespread cost to society, particularly in education and health care due to illegal migrant workers.]
The claim is that immigrants do jobs that Americans won’t do. The reality is that Americans won’t do those jobs at such low wages. Illegal immigration hinders real economic progress in that it makes it possible to continue doing jobs cheaply that would otherwise be mechanized or automated. [Note from Rossputin: Christopher is making two separate points here. I agree with the second point that illegal immigrants work cheaply enough that it may discourage technological innovation in areas like agriculture. However I disagree with the implication of his first point that we should simply get employers to pay more and get Americans to do those jobs. American unemployment is very low, and the cost to the consumer of what one would have to pay to get most American workers to do what many Mexicans do is beyond what those jobs are worth.]
So as we consider a Day Without Immigrants lets us consider that what we gain is low skilled labor to wash our dishes, mow our lawns and take out our trash. What it costs us is billions of dollars in subsidies and a chipping away at our sovereignty.
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