Undocumented Immigration: Legalization is the Solution


February 24, 2011 by The Mormon Worker

William Van Wagenen
United for Social Justice/The Mormon Worker
Immigration Debate vs. Representatives of the Utah Minute Men Project
Salt Lake City Library
February 6, 2011

Undocumented Immigration: Legalization is the Solution

Opponents of undocumented immigration claim that “illegal aliens are invading America,” causing a new “wave of crime,” “stealing” jobs from American workers, committing wide spread identity theft, and bankrupting our government run social service programs. Former congressman Tom Tancredo sums this all up by contending that “illegal immigration is one of the greatest threats to our nation.” As a result, he and others advocate efforts to militarize and “secure the border” and deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible.

While it is true that undocumented immigration causes some problems, they are not the problems just cited. Further, the problems undocumented immigration actually does cause can be easily solved through a legalization program that would divert illegal flows through legal channels. This is a much better approach than wasting money to deport undocumented workers and militarize the border. Let me first debunk some of the myths surrounding undocumented immigration. After that I will explain why legalization is the proper approach to the current immigration problems we face today.

Is there a Wave of Immigrant Crime?

Undocumented immigrants are not responsible for a wave of crime. Tim Wadsworth, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, noted that, “The cities that experience the greatest growth in immigration, were the same ones that were experiencing the greatest declines in violent crime.”

Invading our country?

Undocumented immigrants are not “invading” our country. An invasion is when an army comes to another country violently, murdering people, and stealing land. This is a good description of the way European settlers came to this country and committed Genocide against the Native American population. However, it in no way accurately describes undocumented workers, who come to this country peacefully to work.

Stealing Jobs?

People often assume that there are a finite number of jobs, and that each time an undocumented worker takes a job, this must mean that a native born worker loses a job. However, James Smith, a senior economist at the Rand Corporation stated that, “No credible estimate exists that [shows] immigrants cause unemployment.”

With increases in low-skilled immigration, the U.S. economy expands, creating more jobs in higher-skilled areas. As a result, some U.S. workers now in low-paying jobs would move up to these better paying jobs, actually reducing the wage pressure on low-skilled U.S. workers who remain in low-skilled jobs.

Lowering Wages?

Do undocumented workers lower wages? According to a Wall Street Journal survey, 81% of economists believe that undocumented workers lower wages for low-skilled workers only slightly, or not at all.

Additionally, to avoid prosecution for hiring undocumented workers, employers increasingly turn to contractors for hiring. This way they can hire undocumented workers but maintain plausible deniability. This practice has led to lower wages for documented and undocumented workers as contractors take a cut of the pay. It also leads to fewer workers paying taxes because they are often paid in cash.

So the key is not to prevent low-skilled immigrants from entering the job market, but rather to improve the social safety net, education, and unemployment benefits for low-skilled native workers who have difficulty finding employment, as well as promoting unionization to increase wages for all workers.

Bankrupting Social Services?

Undocumented Immigrants are not bankrupting our government social services. They do not qualify for most welfare programs, and even though they are poor, they make minimal use of welfare programs they do qualify for.

That being said, providing access to public education and emergency health care for undocumented immigrants does place a burden on state and local governments. However, the Congressional Budget Office notes that “the net impact of the unauthorized population on state and local budgets . . . is most likely modest.” So it is hard to characterize this as bankrupting our social welfare programs.

So while undocumented immigrants are a modest burden to state and local governments, they at the same time pay roughly $7 billion a year to the Federal Government in the form of Social Security taxes, the benefits of which they will never see.

Undocumented Immigrants Pay Taxes

In addition to paying Social Security taxes as mentioned above, unauthorized immigrants pay taxes and other fees to state and local governments, including sales tax, and property tax, which at least partially offset education and health care costs. In addition, the IRS estimates that about 6 million unauthorized immigrants file individual income tax returns each year so that they can pay their income taxes.

Of course it is unfair that many undocumented immigrants are not paying taxes. This is another reason to legalize their status so they can work above the table and begin paying their full share.

Identity Fraud?

Undocumented workers often use Social Security numbers that are false or belong to a US citizen in order to get a job. Legally, this constitutes identity fraud. However, this is not the same as identity fraud as we commonly know it, which takes more than just using a random social security number to work, without knowing who it belongs to. Identity theft means getting someone’s name, address date of birth, Social Security number and using this information to take out fraudulent loans and credit cards and/or steal money from the victim’s bank account.

The identity fraud that committed by some undocumented workers for the most part just allows them to work and pay taxes. Of course, paying taxes is a good thing.

There is one negative affect that does sometimes result when an undocumented worker uses a random Social Security number, which is that it may cause the income of the true owner of that number to be overstated on Federal records, which may in turn prevent them from qualifying for certain social services. For example, a child may have too much supposed earned income to qualify for state medical insurance assistance (CHIP).

This problem can of course be alleviated through a program to legalize undocumented workers and give them a tax identification number that allows them to work and pay taxes in their own name.

The Real Problems with Undocumented Immigration

The real problems with undocumented immigration are as follows:

Needless deaths: By militarizing the border, the flow of undocumented migrants has not decreased. However, this causes them to attempt to enter the country by increasingly remote and dangerous routes. In 2005 for example, a total of 472 migrants died while attempting to cross the border.

Exploitation: Because undocumented workers have no legal rights, they have no redress when employers steal their wages, or sexually harass them. They are often fired or reported to ICE officials to be deported for attempting to organize unions, or for complaining about unsafe work conditions. Because undocumented labor is underground, it allows literally slave like conditions to flourish. Many undocumented workers could perhaps be better described as indentured servants or slaves.

Having a large, easily exploitable labor pool with no rights allows big business to prevent unionizing efforts that would improve working conditions and raise wages for all workers. It also allows big business to deflect American working class anger away from the capitalist class. Few people are talking about the bank bailouts and executive bonuses anymore, a lot of people are talking about undocumented immigration.

Criminal Cartels: Because the border is militarized, undocumented migrants pay smugglers working for criminal cartels to help them cross the borders. These smugglers sometimes rape and rob undocumented immigrants, and are also involved in the drug trade. Legalizing immigration and taxing border crossings would provide the Government with needed funds for social services, and eliminate a significant source of funds for the cartels.

Economic Benefits of Legalization

In addition to the benefits listed above, legalizing undocumented immigrants would also benefit the country economically. A study published by the Cato Institute and written by economists from Monash University in Australia found that if the numbers of undocumented workers could be reduced by 28%, by preventing border crossings and increasing deportations, this would cost Americans $80 billion in lost income per year. The money we would save on social services would be more than offset by losses in economic output and job opportunities for more-skilled American workers.

At the same time, they found that legalizing undocumented workers and charging an entry tax (perhaps equivalent to the $3,000 would be immigrants currently pay the cartels) would increase American income by $180 billion a year.

So the difference between deporting large numbers of undocumented immigrants and militarizing the border on the one hand, and legalization on the other, amounts to a difference of $260 billion in income per year.

Undocumented Immigration is not a Threat to our Nation

In conclusion, undocumented immigration is not a “threat to our nation,” unless you are trying to preserve the United States of America as a predominantly white, English speaking Protestant nation, and exclude people from other ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. This is why some of the fiercest opponents of undocumented immigration are also opponents of legal immigration as well.

There is no other reason to attempt to deport millions of undocumented workers, waste additional tax money for enforcement, break up families, and allow additional border crossing deaths. Preserving America as an ethnically white nation is the only reason you would want to further punish our brothers and sisters from Mexico and Central America, who have already suffered enough from US foreign policy, both economic and military, in their own countries.


15 thoughts on “Undocumented Immigration: Legalization is the Solution

  1. Aaron says:

    Thanks for saying so effectively what many of us are thinking, it’s astonishing that this option is not given more serious thought by our government.

  2. Ken Meyer says:

    Pray tell, just how is “legalization” a SOLUTION to (what you at least recognize as) “the problem”? And just how is “legalization” going to “divert illegal flows through legal channels” unless those channels are expanded to an INFINITE extent…and, if they’re NOT so extended, what’s going to prevent an even greater “illegal flow”?

    As for your reference to “Tim Wadsworth” and his claim that “The cities that experience the greatest growth in immigration, were the same ones that were experiencing the greatest declines in violent crime.” , perhaps four points need to me made. First, referencing your own title photograph, does it look like those referenced are consistently in “cities”? Lot of cucumbers (or whatever) being harvested in downtown Chicago or New York, do you think? Secondly, just WHICH cities is Mr. Wadsworth supposedly referring to? And third, just how does he account for place like Immokolee, or Belle Glades, or Clewiston, Florida? (feel free to look up the data, people; it’s not hard to find) Think he could convince the LEGAL residents of those communities that violent crime has fallen or stabilized with the flood of illegal aliens. And lastly, do you REALLY presume that our society as it’s constituted today is concerned only with VIOLENT crime, as if the myriad of other non-violent crimes that illegal aliens commit against us don’t count?

    In terms of the “economic benefits” of “legalization”, I can’t help but see a comparison with a mighty dumb “economically”-minded ship’s captain who finds his passenger ship’s hull penetrated on the high seas. As the water pours in, he justifies it by saying it will be “economical” because the passengers won’t have to waste effort getting out of their beds to get a drink. But, of course, the water is salty, and doesn’t appease the passengers thirst at all. That’s all right, the captain says….we can “solve the problem” by simply placing the bunks up on blocks so the water can’t reach them. But, of course, the water KEEPS pouring in, and soon it floods the bunks on the lower decks, and then those on upper decks as well, until such time as the vessel founders completely.

    That’s the case with immigration. “Legalization” doesn’t “solve the problem” in any way, shape, or form. In fact, it exacerbates it. You CAN’T solve the problem unless, as in the case of the foundering ship, you PLUG THE HOLE AND PUMP OUT THE WATER!

    Now, maybe some (what I can only assume to be virtual “stowaways”) in our society will maintain that you can. But others – the vast majority in our society – have determined that acting deranged like the captain in question is NOT in their best interests. And that majority, quite rightly, doesn’t have a lot of respect for that overly-vocal minority who are attempting to impose their will on them, or burden them with a problem they don’t choose to maintain.

    Lastly, I need to mention that my wife and I volunteer twice a week at a church-sponsored food bank, which also provides (limited) financial resources. Approximately 40-50% our clientele is of Hispanic decent and language, and – from what we can tell (we don’t make a point of questioning LEGAL residency, although we do demand documentation of physical residency, only to limit clients to the area we’re designed to serve) primarily “undocumented”. Two weeks ago, we ran into a situation where a single mother U.S. citizen (her husband had recently died in one-car auto accident) came to us looking for help because (1) she had recently become disabled, and (2) she had a young daughter who had a life-threatening -albeit treatable -form of cancer. We were able to give her food and some limited financial aid, and there were resources available for the health care of her daughter, *IF* she could come up with the minimal amount of money neccessary for travel, etc…normally, no big deal. But she could get disability benefits; not in her own name, nor survivor benefits from her husband? Why, Because BOTH her and her husband’s social security numbers had been hijacked by undocumented aliens…and, although the Soc.Sec. Administration admitted as much, it was going to take some legal work – and some time – to correct the situation. This lady literally didn’t HAVE the time, nor the money to hire legal representation. Eventually, she found a lawyer who would take on the issue for several hundred dollar (not totally pro bono, but close, considering the number of hour he anticipated spending), but meanwhile she’s begging for food and her daughter’s treatment is going by the wayside. And several hundred dollars was/is FAR from an insignificant amount for this individual.

    Now, perhaps there are those out their who don’t see that as “a problem”. I do. And the problem was CAUSED because individuals ILLEGALLY entered this country and then committed OTHER – albeit “non-violent” – crimes as well. As a society, we’re not going to “solve” such problems by catering to the whims of those ARE the problem, or by papering over the fact that there IS a problem. Rather, like a responsible ship’s captain, we need to (1) plug the leak and then (2) pump out the invasive “water”. THAT is “the solution” to the problem….not irresponsible jingoism, or ill thought-out schemes that only serve to worsen the situation.

    • J. Madson says:

      Dude we get it. You think borders matter. you think immigrants are parasites and the scapegoat for all of the worlds ills. You think we are wrong and you are somehow going to set us straight.

      So we are clear, it prob wont happen. Most of us here dont care for your boat analogy because we think borders are imaginary lines that shouldnt exist to begin with. Most of us here have problems with the existence of the state to a large degree. Most of us have no problem with completely open borders. Most of us feel sorry for the sister who got screwed because of fraud. But we also realize that if we had open borders and allowed anyone to work that there would not be stolen SS #s to begin with. The problem with your superior logic and reason is that we reject your foundation and your assumptions from the start. To paraphrase tyler durden, “[your] polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So f*&^ off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.”

      • Ken Meyer says:

        “J. Madson”

        Perhaps you’ll think it’s an impertinent suggestion; but, if to you and yours, “borders are imaginary lines”, then why don’t you simply CROSS one of those “imaginary lines” and stay on the other side? In other words, why do you choose to stay on (what is obviously) THIS side of the border if it’s purely “imaginary”? Could it – just possibly, mind you – be because you enjoy and WANT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF the benefits provided by being on THIS side of that “imaginary line”? That, while you YOURSELF are unwilling to contribute to the maintenance of that border, you’re MORE than willing to avail yourself of the benefits it has to offer? One wonders.

        As for “immigrants”, where did I *EVER* suggest that I felt true IMMIGRANTS were “parasites” or anything of the sort? What’s the matter, “madson”? Can’t even get a sentence in without trying to pass off another fabrication? That YOUR essential “foundation”, is it? I.e. – “lie early, and lie often”? Sure looks like it.

        As for your “most of us have no problem with imaginary borders”…well, again, just who is “most of us”? You taking it upon yourself to speak for society generally again? Or are you using your more “refined” definition of “most of us here”, If so, I can’t help but note that you used a similar definition when you maintained that [paraphrasing here; don’t have the quote right in front of me] that “no one care[d] to hear what [I] had to say”…yet the percentage of responses to my posts in comparison to the total number of posts here on this blog recently would seem to indicate that your assertion was/is a complete untruth. Apparently you’re not even fit to represent what you apparently conceive as your own little bailiwick, are you? You know…that one YOU have placed a “border” around; a border, which in this instance, you apparently don’t think is “imaginary” at all.

        In any case, I’m forced to ask again; JUST WHO MADE YOU THE BOSS!?!

        You’re right with your statement of “But we also realize that if we had open borders and allowed anyone to work that there would not be stolen SS #s to begin with”….

        …in that, if there WERE “open borders, then there would NOT BE any Social Security to begin with. Or, for that matter, any viable safety net at all. Again, I suggest you put the suggestion to the test AND CROSS THOSE BORDERS THE OTHER WAY AND STAY THERE, in order to discover just how UN-imaginary they actually are.

        As for my premise, it’s something that I’ve at least tried to buttressed, rather than simply insist that it exists as something handed down by divine grace or whatever. Meanwhile you, in turn, come up with the “premise” that “borders are imaginary”. That’s not a premise, “Madson”; it’s just downright silliness. And, in terms of the Titanic – assuming that our society represents such a vessel – you would be an individual who, instead of “polishing the brass”, would be dynamiting holes in it’s hull, actually WILLING it to sink.

        Sorry, but, by my description of you as a presumptuous little snot seems more accurate with each exchange. And the level of “integrity” you have is brought into clearer perspective with each of your comments as well.

        Now why don’t you go cower behind your “imaginary borders” some more, while those of who take our responsibilities as citizens – both of our country and the world – seriously continue covering for you. Sound like a plan? Obviously it’s worked for you so far.


        P.S. – ‘Course, this entire post is probably an exercise in futility, since “no one” (which presumably would include you, yourself) “really cares to hear from me”. And since no one is FORCING you to read this post, you – as person of “integrity” [snicker] – wouldn’t be reading it in the first place, would you?

        You have fun dispensing with those “imaginary” borders you seem so inclined to retreat behind, won’t ya’?

      • J. Madson says:

        I said “most of us here” – learn to read (here is being used to make explicit which you should have assumed before.)

        your just being a troll and frankly a tool as well. I know blogging may be new to you but if you go and write inane stuff on someone’s blog, you should expect them to tell you to piss off. I dont come over to your home and call you names just as I dont run over to NRO online and tell them what pricks they are. Yet you want to come over to a blog for people who are interested in radical politics and set us all straight. Blogs like this exists for people who are tired of hearing the crap you think is so insightful. The only reason people respond to you is because they dont want your childish rants to be left as the final word on a blog against pretty much everything you seem to stand for. So go ahead, calls us snots, liars, whatever and I’ll go ahead and exercise my who made you boss power and delete your nonsense. You want to make an argument, go ahead. You want to come and attack bloggers with ad hominem, then Id ask that you take your rants elsewhere.

    • Iamdavid says:

      Dear Glen (“snicker”), I mean …Ken.

      This must be your way of hypering-up for your program on FOX. Get all ramped up against the Mormons, try to destroy anything not in your company’s best interest? “Snicker” you do, and snicker you are.

      I’m touched with your profound attempts at trying to right the injustices with you and your wife being so devoted in caring and giving to those less fortunate, than you. You have a rather provacative way of treating everyone. Then, you spit and run. Do you think Rupert would invite someone onto your show with some other agenda other than those of your co-horts? Doubt it. You only want to own the conversation, and will stop at nothing to achieve that end.

      I do love ya though, Ken.

  3. Kate says:

    Excellent post Will. It must have been quite a raucous library debate!

  4. Cabinessence says:

    I wonder what the Monash University in Australia had to say concerning immigration to Australia. Surely they are all for allowing unfettered access from Indonesia into Australia. You oughta check that out. Also if what youre suggesting is allowing completely 100 percent unfettered access to United States citizenship from anyone that can show up then yes, social services will be absolutely decimated. The numbers you refer to only reference legalizing estimated numbers of undocumented workers presently in the United States. Legalizing is a cop-out that will only produce vastly more strenuous situations in the future.

  5. hector says:

    i would like to see all the research backing up all your answers to these questions. Please cite and show me numbers. I don’t take any of your answers serious until i see that.

    Illegal immigration is not a black and white issue as you put it here, not everyone is benefiting from it, and not everyone is being affected. Something we do have to remember is that illegal immigration is a crime, no matter what benefits it might bring, it should be treated as such.

    • Iamdavid says:

      Dear Hector,

      Living in this World is harder and harder for us all, except those who live off the system, in any way shape or form. Some are actors, some are posers, some are real individuals with real aspirations of being such. If, for one instance, we all could realize the dream of our creator, a truly free and unfettered access to all which He has provided, then and only then may we understand the true meaning of peace and happiness. It is the one’s who desire to put others beneath them which has the effect of nullifying any idea of the thing which is called “FREE AGENCY”. If you cannot understand this concept, perhaps you should read more on the subject, and then maybe come back and enjoy the conversation. It is a simple concept. Unless one is intent on going to war over things which other men own, on this Earth. If , for any reason, that is what you would relate to, there is no other conversation needed. Except, you may be in need of a better education into the laws of man, as against the principals of God.

      Now, I am not so schooled as to have any of my brothers or sisters behave in such a manner as to disregard any law or even the laws of our United States. However, and in present times, those laws are a changin’ and I didn’t do the murderous atrocities which those laws have brought on in the recent or even past. People who do not appreciate the laws of others, did. It is not ours to decipher whether we are allowed to speak, or to act, and then to think upon the same. If you were to be told by your neighbor, to kill another, would you? On the other hand. If you were told to kill for your government…would you? What would be any difference! You still killed someone, just because you were told to? Was there anything in the back of your mind which might have said…na, I’m not doin’ this!

      Finally, as the World in the Middle-East is on fire, what stance is to be taken for the refugees of those countries fleeing from the carnage of the war-mongers? Should they be mowed down as they try to escape a World on fire? Should they be allowed to go where it may be safe for their family? At some point you and all of us are given a choice in this life to simply, do the right thing. As we all sit comfortably in our “happy rooms” in front of our “happy set”, think for just one minute, if it happened here…which..one day…it most certainly will. That is the truth as told by our God. If you do not believe this could ever happen, then there is nothing and nowhere to take you further.

  6. Iamdavid says:

    Oh I just find beating dead horses to be rather pointless but I think a glimpse into the mind of a dead horse beater or an individual determined to deter dead horse resuscitators can be fairly interesting, like what makes em tick you know?

    Comment by Cabinessence — February 15, 2011 #

    This is just an example of some…people, whom have infested our airwaves. I’ve been tracking and watching these…people, and if one may go to the site of The Good Democrat, you may find some fun they are having with the masses.

    Hate to spin the subject/s, but this is of importance to each and all who try to have any kind of conversation w/out those who would rather destroy your free agency. Which, after all, is the point of the real conversation and the simple answer to Ken Meyer’s question.

    Innywayzzz. Ken. What next may you have in store for we…the people? And. Did you just jump into the pit, or, are you going to actually pose?

  7. Cabinessence says:

    Iamdavid: illegal immigration is certainly not a “dead horse” issue. The American civil war for all intents and purposes is. I’m glad youre really really interested in me! Let’s stick to the topic at hand though shport. Anyways, jobs are indeed “finite” at any given time. Maybe you could explain how allowing unfettered access (nominal fee) to American citizenship (and unfettered access to social services) would not absolutely decimate said social services. I mean how many people would show up? How many people taking and not giving would it take to decimate social services?

    • Iamdavid says:

      I give up…tell me? And whilst yer at it, sport, tell me about the way in which you travel around into the domains which you attack, and tell me about the laws of the free world in which you abide, so well. Have you even considered answering the first question? That was, who gave you life and free agency? And. If it were not for the system, as it is, we would not need the system for a @#%^! thing. Thing is, it is because of the greedy and thoughtless, we are all in the bind of which we are. And. Sir. If you are so upstanding in law and…order, why do you go around throwing your bs, which nobody wants to repeat, here?

      • Cabinessence says:

        Iamdavid: It would be hard to pinpoint the exact number that “decimated” social services completely but a policy of wide open borders, show up and youre a citizen would make it happen faster than you can say “that was a bad idea”. That’s common sense. Which makes me wonder if that’s what certain individuals who champion the cause of limitless immigration really want. If you don’t care about borders, you probably shouldn’t care about governments, or social services, or the economy, or taxes or national defense, or crime, or jobs etc etc either. Unless your intent is to be disingenuous.

    • Iamdavid says:

      And bye the bye, Glen,

      How many dead horses would it take to turn you off. For all you have contributed to all the conversation- ad nauseum- what does it take for you to simply go back to your constituents and tell them, this task is impossible for me to take on. Can’t you just give me the guns on the border, so’s I can just shoot ’em?

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