$250 Thousand Million
Many involved in the immigration debate, both on the pro-immigration and
the anti-immigration sides, all too often believe that immigrants are a net
drain on the American economy. Those on the pro-immigration side then
typically call for compassion for the immigrants, and those on the
anti-immigration side typically call for a halt or reduction of immigrants.
We believe that both approaches to immigration are wrong, and for the same
reason - immigrants are solid contributors to the economy, and we could not
prosper without large-scale immigration. Very often debates on this issue
get quickly clouded by a veritable deluge of statistics from both sides,
and many people find it hard to digest the slew of statistics that this
topic inevitably generates. So, it might help to focus on just one
statistic - not to settle the debate, but to get an idea of the enormity of
the numbers involved. That might be sufficiently eye-opening for many of
The Social Security Administration maintains what it calls an "Earnings
Suspense File" - an account where the Social Security contributions of
those whose names and numbers do not match are deposited. Undoubtedly, some
of these are contributions from Americans who made a mistake on their W-4s,
but it is our estimate that at least 50% are from hard-working but
undocumented immigrants. (See the graph on page 12 of the Audit Report from the
Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration at
http://www.ssa.gov/oig/ADOBEPDF/A-03-00-10022.pdf - the spectacular drop in
the Earnings Suspense File at exactly the time that immigrants were
legalized through IRCA speaks for itself). Now back to the numbers. This
account at the SSA now has about $500 Billion in it! That's right, about
half a trillion dollars. Which means that, in our opinion, poor,
undocumented immigrants have pumped in a quarter of a trillion dollars into
Uncle Sam's pockets. It would not be a stretch to say that, but for
large-scale immigration, we would have had deficits throughout the 1990s.
As we said earlier in this opinion, we are not trying to settle the debate
here - just to point out the enormity of the numbers. Lets see what a
quarter trillion means - it means $250 thousand million. The
monies deposited into the US treasury by undocumented workers are about the
same as the entire net worth of a quarter of million millionaires. We hope
that arguments of the economic value of immigrants will now look a little
different. Immigration is not about penny ante, it is big bucks - no wonder
it is also big politics.
Proofing error corrected. 5/7/03. Ed.
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Results Of Hamilton College Immigration Opinion Poll
Paul Hagstrom et al and the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College find that more than 4 in 10 Americans favor decreasing immigration levels.
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Immigration Law News
INS Provides Guidance On Photograph Waiver: Forms I-90 And I-551
The Executive Associate Commissioner of the Office of Field Operations at the INS released a memo providing additional guidance to regional directors on the waiver of photographs for Forms I-90, Applicants Seeking a Replacement or Renewal Form I-551.
DHS Amends Requirements To Obtain Commercial License With Hazardous Materials Endorsement With Immigration Related Provisions
The Transportation Security Administration of the Department of Homeland Security is amending
the Transportation Security Regulations to establish security threat
assessment standards for determining whether an individual poses a
security threat warranting denial of a hazardous materials endorsement
for a commercial drivers license (CDL), including immigration-related provisions.
DOT Interim Final Rule Says Obtaining A Commercial Driver's License With Hazardous Materials Endorsement Requires Immigration Background Check
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the Department of Transportation amends the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to prohibit States from issuing a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a hazardous materials endorsement unless a background records check of the applicant has been completed, including immigration related provisions.
Legislative Hearing Testimony On Posthumous Citizenship
The Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives held several legislative hearings related to posthumous citizenship through death while on active-duty service during periods of military hostilities, including: eliminating the prohibition or immigration benefits for surviving family members to provide such benefits for spouses and children; "Armed Forces Citizenship Act of 2003"; "Fallen Heroes Immigrant Spouse Fairness Act of 2003"; changing the requirements for naturalization to citizenship through service in the Armed Forces; "Naturalization and Family Protection for Military Members Act of 2003".
INS Confession Of Error Joined In By Alien Is Not Dispositive
In Olivera-Garcia v. INS, No. 01-70643 (9th Cir. May. 5, 2003), the court said that the Petitioner was convicted under a controlled substance statute even though the Petitioner and the INS had argued that he had been convicted under the accessory after the fact statute.
Ethiopian Failed To Establish His Eligibility For Asylum
In Tsige v. INS, No. 02-2002 (4th Cir. May. 5, 2003), the court said that Petitioner failed to establish a well-founded fear of persecution necessary to qualify for relief from deportation.
Guatemala's High Crime Rate Is Not Ground For Asylum
In Oliva-Muralles v. Ashcroft, No. 02-1548 (1st Cir. May. 6, 2003), the court said that despite Petitioner's fear of returning to Guatamala because of the high incidence of criminality and violence, since Petitioner and her daughter were not politically active, had never been arrested, detained, interrogated, or persecuted by either the government or the guerillas, their claims for asylum did not hold.
DHS Proposed Budget Allocates $1.1B For Immigration Investigative Activities
Government Executive reports "Nearly $1.1 billion of the $2.8 billion slated for immigration enforcement "will support investigative activities, including immigration fraud, smuggling of illegal aliens, international money laundering, export enforcement, forced labor, trade-agreement investigations, smuggling of narcotics, weapons of mass destruction and other contraband, illegal transshipment and vehicle and cargo theft," [Secretary] Hutchinson said."
Former INS General Counsel Enters Private Practice
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports "The federal government's most senior immigration law expert Bo Cooper is joining the national immigration practice of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP."
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