We engage thousands of people every year at Central Dallas Ministries who come to us seeking solutions, answers and hope in the face of the severe, persistent difficulties associated with poverty. A large percentage of these neighbors are also undocumented immigrants from south of the U. S. border. As a result, we understand something of the difficulties facing these individuals and families. We also are very aware of the need for comprehensive immigration reform now.
Possibly the place to begin is debunking a few myths surrounding immigrants and the debate over immigration policy and reform.
Myth #1: Undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes. Not true. These immigrants pay sales taxes just like the rest of us. They absorb the cost of property taxes that is included in their monthly rental payments to property owners who receive those tax statements. Property owners pay property taxes. Many undocumented immigrants pay into the Social Security system--annually an amount roughly equal to 10% of the program's reserve funds--a payment on which they will never be able to collect any benefit. In fact, I'll collect on what they pay in as a by-product of their hard work.
Myth #2: Undocumented immigrants cost the rest of us as we provide health care, public education and law enforcement for people who pay no taxes. See Myth #1 above. National studies indicate that the net economic impact of providing undocumented immigrants local, state and federal services is a wash or a little better for the rest of us.
Myth #3: Undocumented immigrants take jobs away from American citizens. Study after study reveal that this is not true and that, in fact, the labor of undocumented immigrants helps create jobs that citizens are eager to fill. Remove undocumented immigrants from a major city like Dallas, Texas and see how things work in terms of who fills certain job positions. Consider as well the lost revenue spent by immigrants in local retail and service establishments in a city like Dallas.
Myth #4: Most undocumented immigrants involve themselves in criminal activity, especially crimes related to the "drug wars" along portions of our southern borders. False. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are hard-working, law abiding residents who seek a better life for themselves and their families in the great promise of America.
Myth #5: Undocumented immigrants present a real national security threat to the U. S. in our post-9/11 world. In fact, the threat to our national security along our southern borders is not the result of undocumented workers coming to the U. S. Rather, the threat is due to the fact that there is no systematic, reasonable guest worker registration process in place that would allow national security interests to be addressed and better managed.
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Rising from Ashes
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.