Abusing Immigrants

Republican hysteria about immigration at the southern border is both stupid and racist: Stupid, because most people who are in this country illegally have flown in and overstayed their visas, and racist because–hey!–it’s the GOP and those people at the southern border tend to be brown.

The GOP’s anti-immigrant fervor isn’t so different from the anti-immigrant hatred documented by Ken Burns in “America and the Holocaust”–only the targets have shifted. A little.

In light of DeSantis and Abott’s  recent efforts to prove that “libtards” don’t understand the terrible threat posed by brown people trying to escape horrific situations, I thought I’d share some inconvenient things called “facts.”

I know facts are out of fashion these days, but it is instructive to look at the actual impact of immigration. As David Brooks wrote a few years back,  “when you wade into the evidence you find that the case for restricting immigration is pathetically weak. The only people who have less actual data on their side are the people who deny climate change.”

So what are the facts—as opposed to the xenophobic fears? A couple of years ago, I did some research; this is what I found then.

Immigrants make up about 14% of the U.S. population; more than 43 million people. Together with their children, they are about 27% of us. Of the 43 million, approximately 11 million are undocumented.

What anti-immigrant activists like to call “chain migration” is actually family re-unification and it applies only to close relatives; of the people granted permanent residency in 2016, about two-thirds fell into that category.

Immigrants made up 17% of the U.S. workforce in 2014, and two-thirds of those were here legally. Collectively, they were 45% of domestic workers, 36% of manufacturing workers, and 33% of agricultural workers. Those percentages help to explain why state-level efforts to curb immigration have come back to bite them: in Alabama a few years ago, when the state passed a draconian new immigration law, crops rotted in the fields. Farmers couldn’t find native-born residents willing to do the work.

Right now, restaurants are desperate for waitstaff and kitchen help.

Despite the hateful rhetoric from the GOP, most Americans today consider immigration a good thing: in 2016, Gallup found 72% of Americans viewed immigrants favorably, and as many as 84% supported a path to citizenship for undocumented persons who met certain requirements. Another poll showed that 76% of Republicans supported a path to citizenship. (It’s worth noting that such support was higher than the 62% who supported a border wall.)

What about the repeated claims that immigrants are a drain on the economy? The data unequivocally shows otherwise. As the Atlantic and several other sources have reported, undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars into Social Security for benefits they will never receive. These are people working on faked social security cards; employers deduct the social security payments and send them to the government, but because the numbers aren’t connected to actual accounts, the worker can never access the contributions. The Social Security system has grown increasingly—and dangerously– reliant on that revenue; in 2010, the system’s chief actuary estimated that undocumented immigrants had contributed roughly 12 billion dollars to the program.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that approximately half of undocumented workers pay income taxes, and all of them pay sales and property taxes. In 2010, those state and local taxes amounted to approximately 10.6 billion dollars.

The most significant impact of immigration by far has been on innovation and economic growth. The Partnership for a New American Economy issued a research report in 2010: the key findings included the fact that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Collectively, companies founded by immigrants and their children employ more than 10 million people worldwide; and the revenue they generate is greater than the GDP of every country in the world except the U.S., China and Japan.

The names of those companies are familiar to most of us: Intel, EBay, Google, Tesla, Apple, You Tube, Pay Pal, Yahoo, Nordstrom, Comcast, Proctor and Gamble, Elizabeth Arden, Huffington Post. A 2012 report found that immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as native-born Americans. As of 2011, one in ten Americans was employed by an immigrant-run business.

On economic grounds alone, then, we should welcome immigrants. But not only do we threaten undocumented persons, we make it incredibly difficult to come here legally. If there is one fact that everyone admits, it is the need to reform a totally dysfunctional and inhumane immigration system. Based upon logic and the national interest, it’s hard to understand why Congress has been unwilling or unable to craft reasonable legislation.

Of course, logic and the national interest have been missing from Washington for some time. Compassion went with them.

Bigotry, however, continues to thrive.



  1. The bigotry (fear) leads to right-wing fanatics here and in Europe. White supremacy, fascism, Neo-Nazi, Christonationalism, etc. can all be melted down into one pot of haters.

    The problem is that the media doesn’t explain the causes of migration to the masses. Why are these people leaving Central America? Or Afghanistan and Iraq? Why are Syrians leaving their country?

    The media won’t tell us the truth about what has been happening in Ukraine, causing Putin to expand his SMO from Crimea to Donbas.

    Instead of telling us the truth, they lie to stoke fears and bigotry. It’s all manipulation and oppression.

    The truth is the oligarchs can’t use slaves anymore, so they use prisoners, foreigners, and immigrants. They have to exploit somebody. Everything else is propaganda.

  2. My grandparents were all foreign born. They had the courage to get on a boat and travel to a new world. Two of them spoke NO English. I find these people amazing. They made good live and raised families during the depression. Whats not to admire?

  3. Todd, your continual diatribes against the media make no sense. I should just ignore your unfounded statements but reading and reacting to them is good medicine for my chronic low blood pressure. So keep mounting your hobby horse of attacking the incompetence of the media without guiding us to reliable sources, which apparently only you know about.

  4. Wayne – though Mr. Smekens may employ the occasional hyperbole, his points about the media are not off-base. You can recall the prez of CBS stating ‘Trump may be bad for the US but he’s good for CBS’ and the subsequent coverage demonstrated profit over content. Or, recall the NYT’s gushing over the absolute necessity of attacking Iraq, journalistic integrity be damned. And of course, the latest cheerleading event is Ukraine. Consider reading, “Breaking the News”, by James Fallows for a more thorough look at the media.

  5. I hired immigrants brought to me by a Catholic Social worker and refugee Folks from Vietnam, Eritrea, Hungary, Romania Bulgaria and even Russia. They made me a small fortune and I came to love them. Takes guts to immigrate and hard work to keep a job.

  6. Have to agree with Todd that the media doesn’t provide all information regarding the reasons immigrants are flooding here in such high numbers. But…we are still battling Trumpism and the slowness of getting information about investigation into our own seditious and treasonous government takeover which hasn’t ended yet. We are seeing few media reports on police brutality against black and brown Americans and abuses of immigrants; but does anyone really believe it isn’t happening because it isn’t being reported?

    “On economic grounds alone, then, we should welcome immigrants.” I wonder about that; it would be a poor choice not to hire Americans in immigrant businesses, a show of appreciation and trust. Somehow “rude” and a political misstep to expect benefits we are hard-pressed to provide for our own citizens who are “abused” by the system. Having recently lost my great-granddaughter’s father in a motorcycle accident and watching the family try to find the money to bury a hard working 46 year old man who spent his adult life caring for his children, reminded me of those thousands of Covid victims who were stored in refrigerated trucks. I have an immigrant grand-daughter-in-law, brought here as a child, who was a hard working woman till fired by a major corporation when Trump’s ICE roundups started. The eight years and $10,000.00 spent on their attorney who made arrangements for her to return to Mexico City and an attorney handling her case at that end (she feared to return knowing the dangerous conditions there), she would not have been allowed to return to her family had she gone to work with the attorney there. A form of “Abusing Immigrants” who have proven their loyalty to this country and worthiness to receive help.

    We cannot save the world; but we have never stopped trying. There are no perfect answers to the increasing problems.

  7. My father’s parents came here from Italy in 1901. He was a doctor, and practiced medicine until he died in 1944. They had nine children in 16 years, one of whom died in an accident. All of the others graduated from high school, and four went to college, becoming an engineer, two pharmacists, and a lawyer (who married a doctor). One of the four high-school graduates became the administrative assistant to the mayor of NYC, another worked as an auditor for the IRS, and the third worked at a hospital, training new technicians how to use diagnostic equipment.
    That family may not have been typical of all immigrants, but there were many families who had comparable results for the country.

  8. Never mind the media stuff, did people miss Todd making excuses for Putin attack on Ukraine?

    Who would be/are better Americans, the immigrants or the MAGA nuts? The immigrants hands down. I’d like to deport the MAGA nuts and keep the immigrants.

  9. Growing up in the Pacific NW as a teenager, every summer from 15 on I would got to the orchards of central Washington, or the berry farms on coastal Washington, and the hay and barley fields of eastern Washington and Montana. I did so for the adventure and my only addiction and to earn good money at the time.
    I lived in migrant housing of ranch bunkhouses .
    If it were not for the migrant workers from South of the border America would starve. These people and their families were looking for a opportunity to make a living and willing to do then very hard work to harvest the crops of Americas agriculture, they would travel from Canada to California annually to follow the harvest, I know for a fact many were illegal, but the farmers didn’t care and the people were always afraid of getting in trouble with the police. They were good people, I was never once afraid of any of them even though some would get in fights often over girl friends and between themselves , there was always a older adult leader that would break it up and resolve issues.
    I Believe; Migrants play a very important roll in Americas economy, most often unseen of overlooked by everyone willing to look the other way, until politicians get involved and can make political hay by accusing, portraying them as a threat, and scaring the uninformed about their intentions. If it was not the south of the border immigrants it would be the , middle easterners, Asians, Jews, or any other group the haters could use as an excuse for blaming the problems of the times on. It’s a sad legacy of the human mind and contrition to need someone to blame. Look no further than Putin calling the Ukrainian people Nazi’s and wanting to wipe them out when they are all the same people.

  10. It’s 2022 and Paul still needs a reference. I’ll give you one even though I know the CIA has been doctoring Wikipedia for decades to ensure it matches with the crap they give the WaPo and Bezos.

    Azov Regiment. (2022, September 24). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov_Regiment

    As for the media, read Herman & Chomsky’s 1988, Manufacturing Consent:

    The propaganda model is a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky to explain how propaganda and systemic biases function in corporate mass media. The model seeks to explain how populations are manipulated and how consent for economic, social, and political policies, both foreign and domestic, is “manufactured” in the public mind due to this propaganda. The theory posits that the way in which corporate media is structured (e.g. through advertising, concentration of media ownership or government sourcing) creates an inherent conflict of interest and therefore acts as propaganda for anti-democratic elements.

    Herman and Chomsky’s 5 filters of Propaganda Model

    First presented in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the propaganda model views corporate media as businesses interested in the sale of a product—readers and audiences—to other businesses (advertisers) rather than the pursuit of quality journalism in service of the public. Describing the media’s “societal purpose”, Chomsky writes, “… the study of institutions and how they function must be scrupulously ignored, apart from fringe elements or a relatively obscure scholarly literature”.[1] The theory postulates five general classes of “filters” that determine the type of news that is presented in news media. These five classes are: ownership of the medium, the medium’s funding sources, sourcing, flak, and anti-communism or “fear ideology”.

    Propaganda model. (2022, August 5). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_model

  11. We were born into bounty. Most humans are not. The question is should we share our bounty or hoard it among ourselves? Are we entitled to it though we did nothing to earn that advantage or is it from, by, of, for the world of humans?

    Are we a liberal country or an authoritarian country? Are we run by the military in us or our hearts?

    As our reluctance to accept responsibility for the changes to the earth from our fuel waste accumulating in the sky, bring about more and more profound reductions in the inhabitable areas of earth who is entitled to the part of the US that still remains so? Only those who get their first or as many of the remaining humans can get there?

    These are questions that will shape the history of life.

  12. I’ll bet that 99% of the people contributing to this blog are directly related to immigrants only 2 generations removed – at most. And the same statistics apply to virtually all white, Christian Republicans too, especially those who fear immigrants and the “other” no matter their status.

    I wrote a fictional story based on my grandparents’ flight from Ukraine in the early 20th century as the Bolsheviks were bearing down on the fertile farms of that country. Please visit http://www.vernturner.com to acquire this compelling story. The cover picture is the wedding photo of those grandparents.

  13. Information is available to anyone who wants it. You just have to go look for it. When you find good, reliable sources, stick with them. Never rely on a single source.

    I was scrolling through FB last week when I saw a meme about the People on Marth’s Vineyard getting upset by the diversity that governor Demented gifted to them. I ignored it at first, but it came up again and again. I commented that I was going to inject a little truth into the discussion and I proceeded to tell the real story. I finished up by saying that I was glad the Christians in Massachusetts were more Christ-like than the so-called Christians who dumped those asylum seekers. Haven’t seen that meme again. NOBODY commented! My hope is that they were maybe just a little bit shamed. The moral of this story is: DON’T STAY SILENT.

  14. I am an European-American the product of a 19th century migration and amalgamation of German and Irish foreparents. I am told such Irish migrated as a result of the Potato Famine and have since been to the west coast of that island state to look over their vacated community. I have not been told why my German foreparents migrated but their migration predated both Kaisers and Nazis.

    I don’t know whether any of such migrants were illegal under our then laws but I can imagine with the need for labor our Ellis Island immigration authorities were rather liberal in allowing white Europeans to the fold. My foreparents wound up as coal miners and railroaders in southwestern Indiana. My two brothers and I have five degrees between us. My older brother became a real estate broker, my younger an educator, and I became a lawyer, all in obedience to our father’s stern warning of what he would do to us if he ever caught us in a coal mine.

    Republicans have decided to make “illegal immigrants” a campaign issue. Apparently anyone who shows up at the border is an illegal immigrant; they do not distinguish between asylum seekers and legal immigrants with their sweeping denunciation of all who would enter our country (except, of course, foreign vacationers mit der visas – and money to spend) – all the while ignoring the fact that it is not those at the border but rather those who overstay their visas who comprise the majority of “illegal” immigrants.

    It is noteworthy that these same Republican politicians who loudly complain of illegal immigration, like inflation, refuse to join in with Democrats to do something about it while voting against Democratic countermeasures designed to alleviate their effects. It’s as though immigration and inflation are too valuable as vote-getting campaign points for them to seek solution(s).

    I, Robot and other fantasies, which suggest that someday AI will perform all the mundane tasks that we must ourselves shoulder today and give us unlimited leisure time has not yet arrived, and we are today and for the foreseeable future saddled with picking fruit and vegetables, washing windows etc. Immigrants have proven that they can perform such tasks while enroute to greater things, and I here note that immigrant PhDs who lead some of the Silicon Valley efforts have kept America at the forefront of cutting edge technology.

    So let’s hear it (if Republicans are listening) for a redo of our immigration policies and the positive energy immigrants bring to this land of immigrants, and I note in passing that perhaps we should make Republican efforts to politicize this issue while refusing to do anything about it a political issue of our own as November 8 looms.

  15. At bottom, anti-immigrants are here because their ancestors were immigrants, often before racists attitudes drove the election of politicians who wrote restrictive and racist laws regarding entering the country. When the country’s oligarchs needed slave or cheap immigrant labor, the doors were open to any and all. Is it any different now, when technological expertise provides easier access to immigration?

    ln a recent meme, an older white woman demanded that an Asian woman “go back where you came from.” The best response, besides ignoring the ignorance, is asking her to do the same. Unless she is indigenous, her origins are not on this continent.

    The saddest part is that so many who claim elevated status as “Christian” are the leading defenders of the policies of exclusion.

  16. I’m not sure I believe the part about most illegal immigrants having flown into the country? Most of the Latino immigrants I see in the Midwest and South and Southwest have come here illegally to work, and they don’t have work visas to do construction work or work in restaurants or hospitality industries etc. I work at a large Urban hospital and we give a lot of unreimbursed care to immigrants who are here with no insurance and are not qualified for Medicaid or Medicare so we all end up paying for those undocumented workers. Also undocumented Latino immigrants suppress wages for those at the bottom of the pay scale including young people and also many African Americans who are employed in entry-level jobs. That’s why the businesses incorporations that employ them love illegal immigrants because they can exploit them little to no recourse. Immigration is not a simple issue for sure but it’s definitely a mistake to say that they provide wonderful benefits for everyone when they really are a burden to taxpayers

  17. I agree with Sheila and have tried to explain many times to people that without immigrants our economy would be much worse off. Combined with COVID, without immigrants we could have even had our population shrink!

    But, I have also come to realize, that Republican make hay on wedge issues like this. They get the attention of more voters by continually complaining, or throwing money at flashy but ineffective solutions, like building a wall. Under Obama, fairly comprehensive reform (maybe not perfect) was proposed and passed the house on a bipartisan vote. Despite what people think, Obama never had a super majority in the Senate, and guess what? It died at the hands of a Republican majority that filibustered it when democrats could only manage 59 sitting members. Republicans are after control rather than governance, and have no interest in actually solving the problems they use as wedge issues. It works too well for them to NOT own the problem and just complain about it.

    It seems like most of us all agree that immigration is a strong net positive for the US, and it’s in our best interest to undo some of this mess. It is even more in our interest to give most of these undocumented immigrants a path to being here legally, but spreading lies and creating political theater is better for the Republican party, and the Republican party seems to have given up on doing what’s good for the US.

  18. I am second generation American after my grandparents from Italy immigrated to Indiana. My maternal ancestors came from Scotland and England. I am married to an immigrant. I live abroad but am not integrating or plan to. I’m here temporarily and know I can’t get welfare here just like legal immigrants in the US can’t get assistance until they’ve contributed for 5 years. Every single immigrant that applies for welfare gets screened and vetted. That my bff’s job in AZ. Trust me, nobody gets free stuff, without a criminal element. Immigrants don’t want to set up a life with their family and then get deported for a speeding ticket. My hubby had an anxiety attack after going 5 mph over the limit and getting pulled over. In Peru Indiana! Scary stuff for someone new to our country. He is our breadwinner so getting deported for a ticket would make both of us homeless. Our immigration systems is desperately broken. Let’s vow to fix it. Lives depend on it.

  19. My heritage includes two Dutch immigrants and some of the food and sayings in the family are clearly of Dutch origin. That said I am now an immigrant, however leaving the US due to “Christian” Nationalism. I have immigrated legally and married a native and plan to make one and only one trip back to the US.

  20. So the best reasons given here is that immigrants are a source of cheap labor that eventually becomes educated and assimilated. So who’s getting rich off the cheap labor? The USA has a very big gap between workers and financial manipulators.
    And Todd thinks Putin is right invading Ukraine because “Fascists.” Figures.

  21. It all makes sense. No wonder the Democratic Party did a 180 from working class Americans. Moreover, it’s no wonder the bourgeoisie has enjoyed taking away any and all agency from those they feel are beneath them. Democrats know the working class is–or will be– as a majority, made up of minorities. Take away their (the working class) agency today, for tomorrow our (the PMC) children will still be the dominant force within American society. Protect your status. Others need know their place.

    It’s really another facade for white supremacy. There is no reason for a person of color working a non-white collar job at the airport,hotel and grocery to vote Democratic. The Democratic Party represents the PMC. The PMC wants to be the dominating force with agency within the U.S.of A.

    Immigrants have no agency. They have no representation. Perfect for employers and those wishing to exploit them. The Democratic Party has had ample opportunities to change things for the better for immigrants over the decades-but why change that which works,eh? And for whom.

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