Saturday, October 27, 2007

Racist Fiction Poisons Your Beautiful Mind

Some stereotypes that I have encountered about our immigrant communities have been proved so wrong that I forget even rational people can hear them so many times that they begin to think they're true. As in the recent debacle about some media stating that al Quaeda was destabilizing Iraq before we made war there, there are statements that take hold and don't get enough attention that poison our minds. It's time to spread the truth.

Today I was glad to see a local columnist take on a piece of fiction that I know isn't true, but which she had been finding people spouting as if it were. The fiction; that illegals are draining our funds.

Illegal immigration continues to be a very emotional issue in many U.S. communities, where the impact on schools and hospitals is most felt.

Daily, I get e-mail from readers who complain that illegal immigrants do not pay their fair share of taxes and are a drain on the system.

So I decided to take a look at just where some of the money goes. Several major studies at the national and state levels have been released that show illegal immigrant workers contribute to our economy far more than they take from it.
A 1997 report from the National Academies of Science, for example, found that immigrant workers had contributed about $30 billion into the Social Security and Medicare systems by 1996.

The majority of these workers will never claim any of it.

And a report last year by the Texas state comptroller found that the state's estimated 1.4 million undocumented workers paid the state $1.58 billion in taxes and fees in 2005.

Conversely, immigrants cost Texas about $1.16 billion in public services, such as health care and education, the report showed.

Now comes new research from Dr. David Molina, an economics professor at the University of North Texas, who has followed the money in this issue and has found some surprising results.
Dr. Molina has sifted through federal documents and papers in search of the
Earnings Suspense File. That's where money from mismatched Social Security numbers has been going since at least 1986, he said."This is not even remotely new," he said, and "it's created this huge fund for Social Security. The federal government has been making buckets of money off it."

He estimates at least 250 million records are contained in the ESF. "My guess is that there's about $150 billion to $200 billion in it, and they know no one is going to claim it." Meanwhile, health care leaders, such as Dr. Ron Anderson at Parkland Memorial Hospital, have long complained that it should be coming back to the states to help offset some of the growing health care demands placed on them.

Instead, it remains at the federal level, and local and state governments end up carrying the burden, Dr. Molina said.

The kind of funds that the government has quietly been accumulating from our dreaded illegals could go a long way toward paying for, say, health care for all of us.

Another fiction that was disproved not too long ago is that crime is high in immigrant communities. Not so.

Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, according to a study released Monday by a UC Irvine professor for the
Immigration Policy Center, based in Washington D.C.

UCI sociology professor Ruben Rumbaut found that immigrants of all national backgrounds were incarcerated at much lower rates than their American-born counterparts, according to the 2000 Census. The numbers applied to both legal and illegal immigrants.

His study also described a precipitous drop in crime rates nationwide throughout recent years – a period during which immigration has been at all-time record high. "While immigration is going up, crime is going down," Rumbaut said. "I think it's important to get the facts out there."

The facts can make a great deal of difference in attitude toward immigrants, illegal and not, but those facts are seldom presented. Instead, we hear radical anti-immigrant emotions squawking the opposite of what is true, in the press and on call-in shows, and in comments on blogs. It would be a good idea, whenever we see and hear them, if we countered them with reality.

Lies take us into unjust wars. They can also make things very hard on the innocent. Esteem for reality makes us better people. Please held spread the truth.



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