Why Utah Mormons Should Not Support Rep. Sandstrom’s New Immigration Bill

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September 10, 2010 by The Mormon Worker

Below is another essay regarding the immigration law that may be coming to Utah. Members of the Mormon Worker are participating in actions here in Salt Lake to resist this new racist law. If you would like to help out, please email us at themormonworker@gmail.com. Thanks!

An emotionally charged debate over immigration erupted in Utah last month when State Senator Stephen Sandstrom (Rep.-Orem) introduced a bill in the state legislature that would bring Arizona’s controversial new immigration law to Utah. Supporters of the bill argue that Utah law enforcement officials need to do what the Federal Government seems unwilling or unable to do: deport larger numbers of undocumented workers from the US who have come to this country without permission. The bill would require police officers to check the immigration status of any one that they reasonably suspect is residing and/or working in the country illegally, and report the names of these people to federal agents, in the hope of increasing deportations.

In my view, Stephen Sandstroms bill should be opposed, as arguments in support of it rest on several false assumptions: 1) Illegal immigration will lead to the collapse of the rule of law in America, thus threatening our democratic political system, and consequently, our very way of life, 2) Illegal immigration causes rampant identity theft, 3) It is unfair for citizens of the US to pay for social services, such as education, for the children of people who came here illegally.

Let me address these concerns in turn. The first argument, that illegal immigration is a threat to the rule of law, assumes that once someone breaks the law to enter the US or begin working in the US illegally, he or she will certainly break many (or all!) other US laws, thus causing our society to rapidly descend into chaos and lawlessness. In fact, according to Time Magazine, the violent crime rates in America’s largest cities have drastically fallen over the last twenty years, despite unprecedented levels of immigration, both legal and illegal. Also, if illegal immigration necessarily led to lawlessness, I find it strange that the man in Salt Lake City most responsible for preventing crime, Police Chief Chris Burbank, opposes the kind of immigration legislation Stephen Sandstrom is introducing, predicting that the legislation will in fact result in an increase crime. In fact forcing the police to enforce such a bill would put an unreasonable burden on them, distracting them from more important matters, as well as disrupt the cooperation between the police and the hispanic community that is necessary to solve crimes.

Second, illegal immigration does not cause identity theft. Identity theft is when someone steals your name, social security number, address, birth date, and other personal information in order to impersonate you. This allows them to access your bank accounts and steal your money, fraudulently open credit cards in your name, then run up a huge bill they intend not to pay, and ruin your credit, reputation, and otherwise cause a huge mess that is a nightmare for you to clean up. When undocumented workers use a random social security number, they pay for a fake social security card with their own name on it, and use it to gain employment. They are not impersonating anyone, (it would not make sense for a brown skinned Mexican who cannot speak English to show a potential employer a social security card with the name Alice Johnson on it) and do not know the name of the person that number actually belongs to. The consequence of undocumented workers using such social security cards is that they pay social security tax, and their employer pays payroll tax. It does not harm the person whose social security number is being used.

Third, the argument that it is unfair for current citizens to bear the burden of paying for social services for those residing in the country illegally, is morally questionable, given that almost all current US citizens are descendants of immigrants that also imposed huge costs on the population then residing in this country. For example, white settler immigrants from Europe caused the virtual extinction of the Native American population through the spread of disease, the confiscation of Native lands, and through violence, thus making the country spacious for new settlement. The cost to us of paying to educate the children of undocumented workers, for example, pales in comparison to the cost the Native Americans had to pay for us to now enjoy living in this country.

Also, this cost is offset by the money undocumented workers pay into the social security system (benefits of which they never see), and the money they pay in property tax (which typically funds education). This property tax is paid either directly by undocumented workers who own homes, or indirectly (by those who pay rent to landlords who then pay the property tax). Finally, the children of undocumented workers will grow up to become productive members of society, and will pay a great deal in taxes to fund future services for others over the course of their lifetimes. To refuse to educate them when they are young will likely lead to increases in crime and social decay.

Finally, as Mormons we must remember that our pioneer forefathers came to Utah (then part of Mexico) to escape violence, poverty and persecution, and in order to make a better life for themselves. These are the very conditions our undocumented brothers and sisters (many of whom are themselves Mormon) face when fleeing Mexico and other Central American countries. These people come here to work hard and make a better life for themselves and for their children. So while they may be breaking the law, it is hardly appropriate for us as Mormons to “cast the first stone” and, like Stephen Sandstrom and his supporters, seek to deport more and more of our brothers and sisters who have come to this great state in much the same way our pioneer forefathers did.

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10 thoughts on “Why Utah Mormons Should Not Support Rep. Sandstrom’s New Immigration Bill

  1. deano32 says:

    Until all Mormons stop locking their parked cars or their front doors when they leave for work, they should stop being hypocrites telling everyone we need to be generous to illegal immigrants. Humanity is: when the lifeboat is full, everyone else drowns.

    Right now, the lifeboat is full. Americans are struggling financially. The majority of illegal immigrants working in Utah are competing head to head with struggling Americans doing construction, auto repair, landscaping, yard care, used car sales. They are not picking lettuce or cleaning toilets – those jobs “we don’t want to do”. Majority of illegals are not paying income or SS taxes. Most are working as independant contractors or have their own small businesses being payed in cash or with 1099s using bogus SSNs.

    Those with children born in the USA (I don’t care for the term anchor baby) are receiving as much as $640 in welfare, food stamps, medicaid, and other government assistance PER CHILD PER MONTH. To cover that in sales tax revenue, they would need to be spending $9,000 per month. To cover that with income and SS tax, they would need to be earning almost $4000 per month. Most illegal immigrant families have more than one US born child. Clearly the tax burden far outways any taxes paid.

    Macro economics support illegal immigration is bad for our country. Excess unskilled labor lowers wages in the working class and middle class while raising demand (and prices) for food, energy, and natural resources. The only ones benefiting are the illegals and the crooks that exploit them.

    Even if crime rates among illegal immigrants is comparable to that of US citizens, more people x same crime rate = more crime. More crime = police spending more time responding to, investigating, and trying to solve crimes as opposed to preventing them. More crime = more criminals to support in our prisons. More crime = more victims and costs to citizens. Every crime committed by an illegal is a crime that could have been prevented and a victim that need not have suffered. Chief Burbank subscribes to the theory of crime solving as opposed to crime prevention – a losing strategy that disservices the citizens of Salt Lake City.

    People who support immigration enforcement are not racists or bigots. Yes, there are racists who have jumped on the band wagon, but I think you will find most supporters are good, honest, caring people who are concerned with our country and fellow Americans and believe we need to strengthen ourselves before helping others. Its like the pre-flight safety speach on an airplane. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others”. Its not being selfish – its understanding we need to sustain ourselves in order to be more capable of assisting others.

    Mormons should follow the directive of their Prophet as outlined in the 12th Article of Faith and obey the law of the land.

  2. Deano32

    You make alot of bold assertions about what undocumented immigrants are doing, Do you have any data to back you up? I am seriously asking.

    If your real concern is as you put it the economy and all of the US citizens that are hurting than I think it wiser to put the focus on those who are the real cause and the structures that create the type of economy we have opposed to scapegoating a group of people who have little to no power and are struggling to survive just like everyone else.

    • Deano32 says:

      We both know that hard statistical data about what illegals are doing for work is not available. Pro-immigration people are not going to gather that information, and anti-immigration groups will never get access to real data.

      So, my bold assertions are based entirely on my own real life observations. I should point out that my wife is a recent immigrant to the US, we know many legally immigrated and illegally immigrated foriegners, and I have several family members and good friends working in the construction industry. I can give you numerous faces and names of illegal immigrants working at the jobs I listed above (and not all of them are of latin descent). For now, the burden of proof is on you to prove my assertions are wrong.

      My follow on point is, who gets to decide what is a job “Americans don’t want to do” and what is a job employers don’t want to pay a fair and competitive wage? Free market (not to be confused with capitalism) cannot flourish in an open ended environmnet where labor has no recourse to barter for better wages. Throwing more people willing to work for lower wages into the mix only creates more poor and widens the gap between the working class and upper class. More people working for lower wages is not good for the general population. If you don’t believe this to be true, just visit any third world country.

      It may seem cruel to pick on illegal immigrants and blame them for our economic woes, but they do have some part in this. Paying a lot of money to a lot of foriegners to build a lot of houses nobody can buy did not help our economy in any way, shape, or form. The short term housing boom will have bad repercussions for many years to come. Sending illegal immigrants home or cracking down on employers so that its hard for them to find work will not fix all our problems. But, it will have a positive effect.

  3. Joseph says:

    Saying the data isn’t available because of conspiracies to hide it doesn’t hold up. Really, individuals for strong immigration laws wouldn’t be able to get information? Are they too lazy to set up and carry out actual research? If that’s the case, then their voice deserves to not be heard. You want to bring in personal experience, I’ll bring in mine (from another comment)

    “I lived in a small town in Southern Arizona (and was actually born in Imperial Valley in California) and spent most of the summers of my high school years working on farms. I just couldn’t compete with how efficient and quick the migrant laborers were at those jobs. If U.S. workers can compete, they get those jobs, but the wages aren’t going to get anyone very far. The wages were okay when I was living at home and the money just went into a savings account, but you can’t live off of those wages. For the migrant laborers farm work doesn’t provide a great living either, but it does keep them from starving.”

    Also, I’ve had far more trouble with over-zealous cops and their misguided “crime prevention” then I ever have had with criminals. I’m not interested in living in a police state, though it looks like I’m stuck in one.

    I should also note that when I lock any doors, illegal immigrants are the least of my worries.

    Actually NBER has shown the detrimental effects illegal immigration. But they are minor. I’m going to copy and paste my comments to another, similarly themed post on this blog:

    “Also, from a slate article discussing the NBER’s overall evaluation of detrimental economic impact on American workers:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2266025/

    ‘Immigration is responsible for 5 percent…

    Wall Street and corporate boards’ pampering of the Stinking Rich is responsible for 30 percent.

    Various failures in our education system are responsible for 30 percent.’

    So it looks like putting more effort into reigning in Wall Street, as well as improving U.S. education will address far more in the way of economic problems than creating a police state to stop immigrants(60% versus 5%).”

    • Deano32 says:

      Hi,

      I’m conducting a survery on employment of illegal immigrants in Utah.

      Are you an illegal immigrant? If so, what is your employment? Do you have a Taxpayer ID Number issued in your name by the US Social Security Administration? Do you receive a regular paycheck with standard tax deductions or get paid cash under the table? If you receive pay on a 1099 form or operate your own small business, do you file your quarterly tax statements with both Utah State and IRS authorities as required by law? BTW, nevermind that your answers may lead to more outrage against illegal immigrants – making it harder for you to stay in this country if you are illegal.

      Excuse me Mr. Business Owner, do you employ illegal immigrants? If so, do they all have Taxpayer ID Numbers issued in their name by the US Social Security Administration? Do you pay them cash under the table or do you pay them with a check – withholding all appropriate taxes? Or, do you pay them as independant contractors with a 1099 form that eliminates any need for you to concern yourself with tax and insurance deductions? BTW, nevermind that your answers could lead more outrage against employers that hire illegals and you being convicted of a crime violating USC Title 8.

      Shall we send these forms out to every individual and place of business in Utah and take the responses we get back as statistically valid? Or, should we go door to door asking these questions and believe every answer we get?

      You admit illegal immigrants are working, but you said nothing to discount my obsevation that they are competing head to head with Americans for many jobs that are not related to agriculture or cleaning toilets. During the months of November to April, I am certain very few are working agricultural jobs in Utah. So where are they working then? Foreigners should not be competing with Americans for jobs. We don’t need a McDonalds at every street corner just to employ foreigners. State Street doesn’t need another used car lot just to employ foreigners. Foreigners should not be building new houses when many Americans in the construction trade are struggling to make ends meet. Employers using illegal immigrants just because they work for less IS NOT whats best for our economy and IS NOT whats best for America.

      In my book, 5% of the problem is still part of the problem. Lets solve the problems on Wall St and corporate America AND control illegal immigration. Perhaps then, we can actually regulate guest worker programs efficiently to the benefit of Americans – not the foreigners.

      As for data, I don’t need an official statistically sound research project and neither do you. You know everything I’m saying has merit. You just choose to downplay it because it conflicts with your point of view. It seems your only defense against cracking down on illegal immigration is based on emotion – not fact. Your entire position is to minimize any information against illegal immigration – but you offer no logical and valid arguements for your position.

  4. Joseph says:

    Another thing:

    “Free market (not to be confused with capitalism) cannot flourish in an open ended environmnet where labor has no recourse to barter for better wages.”

    I agree (though I’m not really a believer in free markets, but I do believe in workers flourishing). So get rid of NAFTA, the root source of the problem. Illegal immigration is a manifestation, not a source, of the issue. Getting rid of NAFTA (and anything associated with that great secret combination, the W.T.O.) will do more to address the real issues.

    • Deano32 says:

      Joseph, I do have to agree with you on this one, kinda. NAFTA is bad for America and has done very little to improve anything in Mexico. But, repealing NAFTA will not curb illegal immigration. As long as we continue to offer employment, offer benefits for having children, and continue to look the other way and tolerate their presence – foreigners will continue to come here illegally.

  5. Here is a paper written by a law professor at Chapman University that gives a lot of information about the tax situation regarding undocumented workers. It notes that the majority of economists feel that undocumented workers and immigration are good for the US economy.

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/llr/vol9/lipman.php

  6. deano32 says:

    Good article relating to taxation policies of illegal immigrants. I can relate to his analytical approach. However, his report did nothing to quantify any net economic benefit of illegal immigration. His conclusion is that illegal immigrants are taxed unfairly due to their status and lack of representaion.

    “Yet undocumented immigrants are barred from almost all government benefits,[17] including food stamps,[18] Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, federal housing programs,[19] Supplemental Security Income, Unemployment Insurance,[20] Social Security, Medicare,[21] and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).”

    Technically, what he states here is true, but practically speaking, its false and misleading. First off, all illegal immigrants are entitled to emergency Medicaid and illegal immigrants under the age of 19 can qualify to receive WIC support (food vouchers). US born children of illegal immigrants are citizens by birth and ARE entitled to food stamps, WIC, SCHIP, Medicaid, school lunch, TANF, and other relief programs. All these benefits are issued to the illegal immigrant parent on behalf of the child to use/spend as they wish. The TANF program alone pays out $677 for the first US born child and $244 for each additional child. This amount may be reduced according to verifiable income of the illegal parents (no verifiable income, no reduction of benefit). Food stamp limits vary from state to state, but again can amount to a large sum of money benefiting the illegal immigrant parents and also any non-citizen children.

    Yes, it is true that states and the IRS receive a large tax windfall from income taxes paid by illegal immigrants that work for a paycheck using an ITIN or fraudulent SSN. However, searching the internet, you can find countless reports summarizing the net financial effect of illegal immigration as a large tax deficit.

    http://cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.html
    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/immigrationnaturalizatio/a/caillegals.htm

    I realize these reports are biased toward anti-immigration, at least as much as the previous report is biased towards pro-immigration.

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