Information on Immigration
The Economics of Immigration in North Carolina
The nonpartisan University of North Carolina Kenan Institute on Private Enterprise conducted a ground-breaking, detailed survey of the economic impact of Hispanics in North Carolina. The report, a report summary and a presentation of their findings are available at their website.
Immigration: Myths and Realities
When the Center for Participatory Change and COLA, the Coalición de Organizaciones Latino Americanas, offer workshops, we have a two page handout that covers common misconceptions about immigrants and immigration, and provides accurate information.
Myths and Realities of Immigration
Immigrants take jobs and opportunity away from Americans
A recent national study by Pew Hispanic Center found that in the last 15 years immigration did not hurt job opportunities for Americans. Most immigrant workers are concentrated in a limited number of industries such as agriculture, construction, the hospitality industry, and food preparation (the most dangerous and lowest paying jobs). In NC, Duke University found “that since the mid-1990s, industrial sectors have been flagging largely because of…free trade measures passed by the United States. Because of a combination of plant closings, cost-cutting, consolidation… in the period from 1997 to 2002, North Carolina lost 100,000 jobs in the textile industry and 70,000 more in the apparel industry.”
Immigrants are breaking the law
Entering the United States without documents is a civil offense. Labeling immigrants as lawbreakers penalizes the individual rather than recognizing the larger economic and political forces at play. Each year, only 10,000 visas are available to low skilled immigrant workers, while the market hires 450,000 low skilled immigrant workers a year. Despite increased efforts to curb immigration at the US/Mexico border, undocumented entry has doubled and crossing deaths have risen dramatically. Researchers have found that crossing into the United States, no matter how dangerous, is a product of the high demand for low-wage workers, economic crisis in home countries, and an immigration policy at home that does not allow options for legal entry. Corporate and even local business benefit from this ready flow of undocumented, low-wage workers.
Immigrants don’t pay taxes
Immigrants pay taxes in the form of income, property, and sales taxes at the federal and state level. They pay the same real estate taxes and sales taxes as everyone else. The Social Security Administration has estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute $6-7 billion in SS funds that they will never be able to claim. Studies show that immigrants contribute substantially to the tax base while using the minimum of community services. Latinos contribute substantially to the local economy. In fact, in Henderson County, Latinos spent $78.3 million in 2004, generating more than $5 million in sales tax revenues.
Immigrants come here to take welfare
Immigrants come here to work and reunite with family members. Their participation in the labor force is consistently higher than other US groups. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. One study found that immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay $90 billion in taxes, and use about $5 billion in community services. Despite their hard work, the average income for undocumented immigrants is 40% less than the average legal immigrant or native American family. At least 22% of immigrant children are uninsured, and are more likely to live in crowded households that have difficulty affording food.
Immigrants don’t want to learn English
The NC Community College System reported an enrollment of over 37,000 adult students in English as a Second Language courses in 2003. This does not include church and community classes. The Literacy Council of Buncombe County currently has over 250 students enrolled. Research shows that within 10 years, 75% of adult immigrants will speak English well. Nationwide, demand for English classes exceeds the supply, while important key adult education funding continues to be cut.
The United States is being overrun by illegal immigrants
Only 4.3% of all workers in the United States are undocumented immigrants. A 2005 study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that there were 37 million foreign- born residents in the United States. Of these, 11.5 were naturalized citizens; 10.5 were legal permanent residents; 11.1 were unauthorized; 2.6 were refugees; and 1.3 were temporary visitors. Of the 25% undocumented immigrants, 40% overstayed temporary visas.
Securing our borders will stop illegal immigration
The $20 billion that the United States has spent on militarizing the border in the past decades has had no considerable effect on immigration levels. From 1986 to 1998 the Border Patrol’s budget increased six-fold and the number of agents was doubled. In that same timeframe, the number of undocumented immigrants doubled. No border enforcement strategy will be effective in keeping immigrants out unless it is combined with policies that address the push and pull factors that compel immigrants to come here.
Information taken from: Justice for Immigrants—Learn the Issues, The Washington Post/Pew Study on Immigration, Duke University Markets & Management Studies Program, Aviva Chomsky , COLA & Center for Participatory Change.