The Cost of "Strict Enforcement" Part I

From Kelly M. Valenzuela and co-blogger Santiago J. Valenzuela

There is a literal cost to strictly enforcing US immigration policy, such as paying soldiers and border patrol to police the borders and funding all of the government agencies involved, but there is a also a cost to the US economy.

First, conservative Republicans claim that illegal immigrants are a drain on public services and a burden on tax payers, but most immigrants are not receiving welfare and do indeed pay some, if not all, taxes. By paying for housing, be it rent or a mortgage, immigrants are paying property taxes. When buying goods and services, immigrants pay sales taxes, and more often than not, when they receive a pay check, mandatory federal taxes are withheld.  When they buy gasoline, they pay gas taxes, and so on.

If immigrants are not required to or are not making certain tax payments, then exclude them from certain public services. In fact, let the immigrants be the first step in weaning Americans off the welfare state, then begin getting rid of those services for all Americans, and lower our taxes accordingly.

The drain on public services and the burden to taxpayers is not the fault of the immigrant.  It's the fault of the over-bloated US government and the welfare state it's created.  If big government and the welfare state are a problem, get rid of them, not the immigrants!

Second, immigrants actually participate in and add to the US economy, not take away from it:

Nevertheless, West marshals an impressive array of now-familiar facts. Immigrants raised U.S. gross domestic product by $37 billion in 2007, and were twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a new business between 1996 and 2008, employing 450,000 workers in 2005. Nearly one-fourth of patents filed from the United States in 2006 were based on work of U.S. immigrants, and 53 percent of patent-holders got their top degree from a U.S. university.

'People believe a lot of things about immigration that simply aren’t true, and those beliefs make it difficult for politicians to actually make change,' West said. 'I think if people understood those facts, they would be more reasonable in working toward a response to the problem.'

These producers and business owners create wealth on a scale that is difficult to calculate, and they do pay taxes. Businesses grow and they create jobs which employ more and more people. To believe the myth that immigrants are "a drain on society" and that we must keep them out of the country, is to refuse to let some of the best and brightest into the US, which will hurt the economy significantly.

In addition to starting or owning businesses, immigrants are often willing to work for much less compensation that most native-born Americans.  When business owners are able to hired less-skilled laborers for lower prices, that frees up other capital which can then be reinvested back into the business.  When businesses grow, they must hire additional workers, some of which will be higher-skilled to not only manage the less-skilled laborers, but to improve the business' products and services.

When employers are kept from hiring an affordable staff, they must close their doors, reduce the number of staff they're able to hire or move those jobs out of the country.  Needless to say, all three options hurt the US economy.

Many Americans are crying out for their state and local governments to do what the Federal government is unable or unwilling to do; enforce immigration laws. We think Americans need to be very careful in calling for even more government intrusion into the lives of men.  As history has shown, no good ever comes of it and the cost to Americans will be great indeed.

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