The lack of change in immigration laws and the utilization of enforcement-only procedures are hurting our country and its people. American citizen families are being torn apart by deportations, humans are being herded into immigration detention centers where cruelty and death are not uncommon, and children are being forced into foster care or to live with other relatives. Over 5,100 US citizen children of undocumented immigrants are currently in foster care due to current immigration laws (Applied Research Center). Mass removal of immigrants is reminiscent of ethnic cleansing, does not make monetary sense, and ignores the positive impact and work of undocumented workers. Most of all, mass removal and breaking up of families is not what the United States of America is about.
Many of us have not received the correct information. There are myths being spread about undocumented workers and we are forgetting that true human lives are at stake.
MYTH #1: Undocumented workers are "criminals", "vagrants" and "animals" with no concern for others.
TRUTH: Many undocumented immigrants love America and its citizens enough to fight for our country, a country that has thus far rejected them. According to the Department of Defense, immigrants are one of the main reasons why the military has been and will be successful, and the Department supports Obama’s much talked about DREAMact (FY2010-FY2012 Strategic Plan, Department of Defense). It is currently not illegal for undocumented immigrants to fight in battle, and many have died for our country as a result of doing so.
Outside the scope of the military, honor is still alive. A man named Antonio Diaz Chacon, a 23 year old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, chased down a man who he had just witnessed kidnapping a 6 year-old girl, likely saving the girl from what would have been a gruesome death. Antonio, who lives in New Mexico, has been living in the United States illegally for 4 years. He risked outing himself as an undocumented immigrant in order to save the life of a young girl.
MYTH #2: All illegal immigrants ran over the border of Mexico.
TRUTH: Many undocumented immigrants have actually been brought here by their parents at a young age, often having no family, friends, or even memories of their place of origin. Also they are not always from Mexico: they can be of Canadian, Irish, English, Asian, or other Latin American descents. These people may look just like your next door neighbor, your child's best friend in school, or even your best friend on the school’s Parent Committee. They may not even have an accent.
MYTH: Illegal immigrants are leaches and parasites and just want to feed off our money.
TRUTH: Many immigrants come here to work and to find a better life. They are, by definition, "go getters" since they already risked their lives to get here. Many of them actually pay into our monetary systems, like Social Security, without being ever able to claim the money they earned on their incomes. Undocumented immigrants paid $12 billion dollars into our Social Security system in 2007, with every cent of it being money not able to be claimed (Social Security Administration, 2007). This money is used toward American's retirements.
Undocumented workers received only $1 billion in fraudulent benefits, which makes them about a $11 billion dollar profit for the year.
MYTH #3 Illegal immigrants do not pay taxes and are a drain on our economy.
TRUTH: Social Security is not the only tax illegal immigrants pay. They also pay taxes on all consumables such as food and clothing. They also pay property tax, even if they rent, as well as payroll taxes. According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, illegal immigrants paid $11.2 billion dollars in state and local taxes in 2010. In addition, many illegal immigrants own businesses. This means that your favorite Mexican or Asian restaurant that you go to every Friday night with your family or friends may have to close up shop if we “ship ‘em all back to where they came from.” Small businesses are a great asset to our economy, no matter who owns them.
The state of Georgia proves our case. Georgia is one of the states who recently passed tough, enforcement-only immigration laws, which caused many Latinos to vacate the state. Since then, the agricultural leaders in the state have reported a loss of at least $300 million to $1 billion dollars, a result of fruit and vegetables rotting on the vines due to lack of farm help and the inability to replace migrant employees with American employees. This amount of net loss multiplied to a nationwide level would be devastating.
These are only a few of the completely unfounded myths that circle about the undocumented workers in our country. The majority of undocumented immigrants are trustworthy, hardworking, dedicated to their jobs and families, and appreciate America for the opportunities that are given to them here. Many of them contribute a great amount more to a society that snubs them than they take from that same society.
We ask that a path to citizenship be provided for the hard-working undocumented immigrants living in the United States of America. This path will not be instant, or easy, but it will be a path that currently does not exist. Many of these people are deeply rooted here, consider themselves Americans, and it is inhumane to require both they and their families, which often contain American citizens as well, to continue to live in the shadows; or to simply rip them apart for years or lifetimes. We ask for your understanding and compassion. It is both financially responsible and humane to grant a path to citizenship for these people. Enforcement-only policies do not work: immigration reform is the only way to humanely and fully solve the illegal immigration problem.
Changing or reforming the current immigration laws is not amnesty; it’s simply giving undocumented immigrants a chance to apply to become legal, and everyone deserves a chance.
Help your fellow man have a way to a better life for him and his family.
**If you can obtain more emails of Congressman that I can add to email list, let me know! Many of them only use webforms.
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