Now we enter week three of the third government shutdown under this President. His desperate cry for a wall spanning the southern border of the US has less to do with illegal immigration and more to do with his campaign promise to his dwindling base of supporters. He has convinced these people that “illegals” are literally swarming the border and flooding this country with terrorists, MS-13 members, rapists, criminals and human traffickers. None of which is true.
According to the Pew Research Center:
There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016, representing 3.3% of the total U.S. population that year. The 2016 unauthorized immigrant total is a 13% decline from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.
In fact, the rates of illegal immigration have been declining for years. According to the US Customs and Border Protection, monthly illegal crossings fell from a high of over 200,000 to just over 40,000 since 2000:
Yet this president claims a crisis at the border. A crisis so bad he’s still threatening to call it a National Emergency to allow him to force the military to build his wall. The legality of this is dubious at best.
This is a crisis of Trump’s own making so he can look tough to his
zombies supporters. But let’s remember that it was his Justice Department’s Zero Tolerance policy that created an actual humanitarian crisis with family separations. His Secretary of Homeland Security, the disgraced Kirstjen Nielsen, consistently lies about dangerous terrorists being apprehended at the border. It’s something so untruthful that even Fox News’s Chris Wallace called her — and Sarah Huckabee Sanders — out on it (skip to 5:38):
Since Nielsen’s and Sanders’ lies formerly went unchecked by the Republican-led Congress, I assume they’ve both taken a cue from Trump and believe if they say something enough, someone will believe them. However, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the new Chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the House, now is also calling Nielsen on her bullshit: he sent a letter requesting that she testify about the administration’s border policies, including those policies that put kids in cages. It’s about time.
What most of Trump’s
zombies fanbase refuses to understand is that immigration is good. Immigrants flee their countries to escape dire circumstances. Immigrants make dangerous, life-threatening journeys for personal safety, to give their kids better lives. Immigrants are prepared to work for it and work hard. Immigrants also play a vital role in our economy.
Here again, from the Pew Research Center comes an estimate that 11.3 million people are currently living and working in the shadows in the US:
About 8 million of them have jobs, making up 5 percent of the U.S. workforce, figures that have remained more or less steady for the past decade.
Contrary to the uneducated and bigoted beliefs of most Trumpistas, these immigrants pay taxes. Our racist-in-chief claims that illegal immigrants cost the US billions. As usual, he is just making that number up.
The most recent IRS data, from 2015, shows that the agency received 4.4 million income tax returns from workers who don’t have Social Security numbers, which includes a large number of undocumented immigrants. That year, they paid $23.6 billion in income taxes.
Immigrants pay taxes for benefits they may never see — like Medicare and unemployment. Immigrants pay taxes into a Social Security system in which they may never partake (and shores up the system for you and me). Immigrants pay taxes whenever they buy clothes, groceries — anything with sales tax included. That pays for schools and roads, police and fire departments. All the communal things that make our lives easier, all the things that make America great.
Angry-mob Republicans cry that illegal immigrants take our jobs. I’m pretty sure that isn’t true. Without immigrant labor, we know many industries will collapse. Dairy farms, for one, including those in New York, rely on workers from Mexico and Guatemala, some or many of whom are likely to be undocumented. Raids on these farms already have had a detrimental impact on their business, so they’re all in favor of major overhauls to our immigration system. Or else get ready for $8 gallon milk, says the National Milk Producers Federation.
Immigrants work in construction. Immigrants pick your vegetables and your fruits and do backbreaking labor. Immigrants are nannies and gardeners and they clean Donald Trump’s toilet and dirty underwear. Look at this chart:
Trump, whose history of hiring hired undocumented immigrants goes back to the workers from Poland who built his eponymous Tower, currently employs undocumented staff at his Bedminster, NJ golf resort. So, no, he doesn’t care about this issue. Ever since he came down his golden
shower escalator to rant about Mexican rapists, this issue has always been a way to rile up his base, to get votes. He has no idea the economic cost of removing millions of immigrants. He has no idea the economic devastation it would cause American businesses if their workers stopped coming to work. This is about racism, fear-mongering and his 2020 campaign. He is holding Federal workers hostage for a promise he knows he can’t keep.
Immigrants take care of all the nasty, dirty, unpleasant work that Americans don’t want to do. That’s just the fact of it. So the next time you’re at your favorite restaurant, open your eyes — actually see the dishwashers and the bussers. The next time you’re in a hotel, go and introduce yourself to the housekeeping staff — in Español. The next time anyone does something that you know perfectly well most Americans don’t want to do, silently thank the exhausted immigrant who did that bloody work for you. Or maybe stop being silent. Maybe tell them that you know that immigration is America. That immigration is good.