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What Are True Costs And Benefits Of Illegal Immigration?

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0eK4EoVyyM

Video published August 20, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Who truly benefits from the work of illegal immigrants? Reporter Alison St. John brings you a story about the costs and benefits of illegal immigration.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THE DEBATE OVER THE VALUE OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT WORKERS IS ESCALATING. WHO BENEFITS MOST FROM THE WORK PROVIDED BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, AND WHICH U.S. WORKERS LOSE OUT AS A RESULT OF THE ADDED COMPETITION FOR THOSE LOW-WAGE JOBS? WE SPOKE TO BOTH SIDES OF THE DEBATE.

AN ESTIMATED 200,000 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WORK IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY. THEY BRING COSTS AND BENEFITS. ECONOMICS PROFESSOR GORDON HANSON SAYS THE PROBLEM IS THOSE COSTS AND BENEFITS ARE NOT EASILY DISTRIBUTED.

THOSE BENEFITS GO PRIMARILY TO ONE GROUP, EMPLOYERS AND INDUSTRIES THAT HIRE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS INTENSIVELY, AGRICULTURE, TOURISM.

Reporter: AGRICULTURE IS A $5 BILLION A YEAR INDUSTRY IN SAN FRANCISCO. ONE SAYS 5,000 FAMILY OWNED FARMS IN THE COUNTY WOULD NOT SURVIVE WITHOUT MIGRANT LABOR.

WE GROW THESE SPECIALTY CROPS THAT TAKE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF LABOR TO HAND-PLANT, HAND-CARE AND HAND-A VERY VEST. IF WE DON'T HAVE AN ABUNDANT WORKFORCE OF LABORERS, WE CAN'T HAVE THE CROPS, AND THE FARMS WILL JUST GO AWAY.

Reporter: LARSON SAYS SAN DIEGANS BENEFIT FROM FRESH, LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE AND OPEN SPACE THAT MAY OTHERWISE TURN INTO HOUSING DEVELOPMENT.

SO WITHOUT IT, THE AVOCADO TREES WILL BLANKET THE HILLS, THE NURSERIES OF SAN MARCUS, VISTA, CARLSBAD, THE FLOWER FIELDS. IT GOES ON AND ON. WITHOUT FARM WORKERS, THOSE ALL GO AWAY.

Reporter: CONSTRUCTION AND TOURISM ALSO BENEFIT FROM THE POOL OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LABOR. THERE ARE LOWER LABOR COSTS TO BOOST PROFITS AND CUT PRICES FOR CONSUMERS. SO WHO ARE THE LOSERS?

AMONG THE LOSERS, WHAT WE HAVE ARE WORKERS WHO COMPETE WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FOR JOBS, AND THAT'S A MINORITY OF WORKERS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY, THE WORKERS WHO FACE THE MOST COMPETITION FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WOULD BE U.S. WORKERS WHO HAVEN'T COMPLETED HIGH SCHOOL, AND SO THOSE WORKERS ARE LESS THAN 10% OF THE TOTAL LABOR FORCE.

CONGRESSMAN BRIAN BULLBURY SAYS THAT'S A PROBLEM. HE SAYS THE LOSERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ECONOMIC HEAP AND DON'T HAVE MUCH POLITICAL CLOUT.

IF ILLEGALS WERE COMING TO THE COUNTRY AND TAKING THE PROFESSOR'S JOB AND THE LAWYER'S JOB, THERE WOULD BE A LOT MORE OUT CRY IN WASHINGTON AND SACRAMENTO TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Reporter: BUT HE SAYS TAXPAYERS ARE THE BIGGEST LOSERS, BECAUSE THEY'RE FOOTING THE BILL FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

THE FACT IS YOU HAVE A FEW WHO ARE MAKING THE MONEY OFF OF THIS, AND THEY'RE EXPECTING THE GENERAL PRESCRIPTION TO CARRY THIS, AND THAT NEEDS TO BE A VERY --NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT UP, BUT THE FACT IS YOU'VE GOT TO STOP THAT. THE TROUBLE IS, THE VERY WEALTHY AND POWERFUL ARE THE ONES THAT ARE MAKING THE MOST OUT OF THIS, GETTING THE MOST PROFIT OUT OF THIS.

Reporter: THE WEALTHY USE IMMIGRANT LABOR TO MAN CURE THEIR MANSIONS AND ESTATES. HANSON SAYS THEY'RE WINNERS BECAUSE THE COST SAVINGS OF USING THE LABOR MORE THAN BALANCES THE COSTS THEY PAY.

COMPARE THAT WEALTHY FAMILY WITH AN UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILY, THAT BEING UPPER MIDDLE- CLASS PUTS YOU IN A HIGHER INCOME TAX BRACKET, BUT YOUR INCOME DOESN'T MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO PAY FOR ALL THE HOME CARE, CHILD CARE, YARD CARE SERVICES THAT THAT WEALTHY FAMILY IS GETTING. FOR THAT FAMILY, THEY MIGHT BE NET LOSERS.

Reporter: IN FACT, SOME ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS PAY TAXES, TOO. THIS MAN, WHO DID NOT WANT US TO USE HIS NAME HAS LIVED AND WORKED IN SAN DIEGO FOR 20 YEARS.

THIS IS THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT THAT THE IRS SENT ME, AND THROUGH THIS NUMBER, I'VE BEEN DOING MY TAX REPORTS EVERY YEAR SINCE 1993.

Reporter: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ASSIGNS WORKERS AN OFFICIAL NUMBER CALL AN INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER SO EMPLOYERS CAN DUCT TAXES FROM THEIR WAGES.

AND A I AM MORE THAN WILLING TO PROVE THAT I'VE BEEN PAYING TAXES LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

Reporter: BUT HE WILL NEVER SEE ANY EARNED INCOME TAX CREDITS OR SOCIAL SECURITY BECAUSE HE IS NOT A U.S. CITIZEN.

THE PAYROLL TAXES GO TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, WHO KEEPS IT. AND YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ON THE ORDER OF 40 TO $50 BILLION A YEAR.

MATTER HOW LONG I'VE BEEN HERE, HOW MANY TAXES I'VE BEEN PAYING, THERE IS NO LAW THAT SAYS, "YOU CAN BE LEGAL."

Reporter: PEOPLE OF ALL POLITICAL STRIPES MAY AGREE THE SYSTEM UNFAIRLY CREATES WINNERS AND LOSERS, BUT DISAGREE ON HOW TO FIX IT.

THERE'S A BUILT-IN INWE CAN ITTY IN THE SYSTEM. WE HAVE TO DO A BETTER JOB OF SPREADING THE BENEFITS FROM IMMIGRATION AROUND THAN WE DO CURRENTLY.

IF YOU'RE LEGALLY HERE, YOU HAVE RIGHTS AND WILL HAVE A BETTER LIFE. IF YOU'RE HERE ILLEGALLY, YOU'LL NEED TO GO HOME.

THE COMMUNITY WILL HAVE TO MAKE A CHOICE, REALLY A COMMUNITY CHOICE. IT'S NOT THE FARM WORKER'S CHOICE. DOES THE COMMUNITY WANT THE AGRICULTURE HERE, AND DOES THE COMMUNITY WANT TO EMBRACE IMMIGRANT WORKERS TO COME HERE AND DO THE WORK?

WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT ARE AGAINST US, AND I DON'T BLAME THEM. YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE THEIR OWN POINT OF VIEW. THEY SEE THINGS THEIR OWN WAY, AND I RESPECT THAT, AND ALL I ASK IS TO RESPECT MY OWN POINT OF VIEW, AND THE PEOPLE THAT HANDLE THE LAW, ALL I ASK THEM IS JUST TO BE.

Comments

Avatar for user 'DelawareBob'

DelawareBob | August 20, 2010 at 5:29 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

Maybe I should read this again. I did not see any mention of the 16-17 million Americans that are out of work. I did not see any mention of the FREE healthcare the illegal aliens get, which is in the BILLIONS..I didn't read anything about how much money is sent out of this Country by the illegal aliens. I didn't read anything about all the illegal alien children we, the taxpayers have to pay for to school then. I think, the bottom line is, we may need some to work our fields, which can be hired LEGALLY. The rest are destroying this Country. What gives them the right to demonstrate on our soil, throw their fist in the air and DEMAND, yes, DEMAND amnesty. What gives them the right when they are here ILLEGALLY?

Let's clear this Country of all the illegal aliens and take our Country back.

I am DEMANDING, yes, DEMANDING our immigration laws get ENFORCED!

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Avatar for user 'mmgan'

mmgan | August 20, 2010 at 7:18 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for this article. Although I doubt I would agree with Deleware Bob on anything else, I do also feel the info is incomplete. There are defintitely other costs, perhaps also some unlisted benefits. I would love to see an attempt at a complete list of cost and benefits, knowing that would be impossible, but still interesting to see an attempt.

Mr. Bob, whose country exactly are you talking about? Not my country I suspect. I might throw my fist in the air to demand respect for my spanish speaking husband because the basic attitude you espouse is a real threat to our personal safety. We are threatened by the hate. WIth your demands, do you also consider the terrible anger and hate being fostered and aimed at all our brown residents and neighbors?

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Avatar for user 'gobnait'

gobnait | August 21, 2010 at 8:06 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

mmgan: No one in this country garners respect by demanding it. He EARNS it. That means obeying our laws and respecting our sovereignty, for starters. Delaware Bob's attitude does not foment threats to your safety and hate; you and people like you do. Why do you imagine that anyone is above the law, especially by virtue of their skin color? Why do you ignore Bob's most salient points- high unemployment for citizens and legal residents and the cost for the billions in benefits for illegals who don not belong here?! Your selective outrage makes me, the wife and grandchild of LEGAL immigrants who waited years to come here throught the proper channels and who were proud to work their @sses off for their American dream and the chance to live in freedom, very angry. I wonder just how outraged you'd be if most illegals were from, oh say, Norway or Fiji.

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Avatar for user 'Sean707'

Sean707 | August 21, 2010 at 10:24 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

Removing undocumented workers from the U.S. would total a loss of $1.8 trillion in annual spending and $651.5 billion in annual economic output, according to a study by the economic analysis firm The Perryman Group. It would cost about $28 billion per year to apprehend illegal immigrants, $6 billion a year to detain them, $500 million for extra beds, $2 million to judicially process them and $1.6 billion to bus or fly them home. $230 Billion is the estimated amount it would cost over the next five years to enact the scenario of the mass-deportation caucus and deport the undocumented population, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. Legalization of undocumented immigrants would significantly expand the economy—by a cumulative $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product over 10 years. A deportation approach, by contrast, would have the cumulative effect of draining $2.5 trillion over 10 years from the U.S. economy. Illegal immigrants are paying taxes to Uncle Sam too. Paycheck withholding collects much of the federal tax from illegal workers, just as it does for legal workers. But some illegal immigrants choose to file taxes and write a check come April 15, using a tax filing number offered by the IRS so it can collect income tax from foreign workers. The latest figures available indicate it will amount to billions of dollars in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes this year. One rough estimate puts the amount of Social Security taxes alone at around $9 billion per year. Most importantly the current immigration reform proposal from democrats will promote Social Security and Medicare funding without rising taxes to current citizens by imposing a waiting period of 8 years for the legalized immigrants to be able to naturalize as part of their penalty. Social Security and Medicare funding for current citizens can be achieved with the new proposal for immigration reform because in the meanwhile legalized immigrants won’t access benefits after we do the tax contributions the Legalized immigrants will pay to us during 8 years will create a surplus that will warranty an outgoing retirement benefits collection by current citizens without increasing our taxes today. Now think on $230 Billion to be spend for each state to enforce federal laws just look Arizona Maricopa country administration is unable of authorizing a budget for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city jail expansion to host immigrants. At the end any responsible leader can not dismiss the economic realities when it comes to dealing with immigration. The whole immigration lampoon is smoke and mirrors tactics from some members of the GOP, republicans are using the topic as a Trojan horse to take control of the senate and congress. Get your priorities straight when you vote next November, if we ended up with a republican majority in congress say goodbye to the tax cuts the president promised for 95% of Americans.

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Avatar for user 'Estoban'

Estoban | August 22, 2010 at 7:22 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

One illegal invader working in construction equals one unemployed American and his/her family being robbed of a paycheck.
There are 8 million illegal invaders stealing paychecks by committing felonies, while 15 million unemployed Americans are looking for ANY job to feed and shelter their families.
Deport ALL illegal invaders, jail ALL criminal employers, fire ALL elected leaders not enforcing our immigration laws!

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Avatar for user 'Brittanicus'

Brittanicus | August 22, 2010 at 6:27 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago


The same with the Republicans lawmakers who used a filibuster to table exposed advertising laws, when THE PEOPLE demand transparency for whose paying for the commercials in November, or even the general election? Otherwise Wall Street will be just as powerful under the next election that cannot be tolerated by the Public. We need to get rid of the smugness in the Capitol and remove all none effective incumbents in November. Senator Reid (D-NV) must be removed and the unpatriotic Czars, including many of the Republican> All those categorized as tax and spend, or pro-amnesty politicians must go? We must destroy the machinery where the most money spent by candidates—BUYS--them a political position such as Governor, Senator or Congressman, who think they can fool the public with their rhetoric.

We cannot remain unfocused by the current Mosque controversy in New York, but open our eyes wide and discharge legislators who are in collusion with the Mexican government who want in on our Social Security. We must—NOT--ratify any Mexican totalization treaty with Social Security, to allow illegal alien workers access to fraudulent tax money, which has been accumulated overtime. Any “totalization agreements” with corrupt Mexico, when end up eating our pensions and retirement benefits.When you break our laws as foreigners, you shouldn’t be rewarded. Every law that is detrimental to the American taxpayer such as the instant citizenship baby law should be amended or better still tweaked, as its a multi-billion dollar pandemic for taxpayers. Any law that assists Americans claim their jobs back, as a mandated E-Verify. The federal government should instruct every local police department to apprehend illegal aliens under the 286 (G) statute. Then above all else--NO AMNESTY--NO PATH TO CITIZENSHIP.

Although we do not have any official Amnesty for illegal people in this country, over 1.5 million are still being imported annually taking away jobs from the 14.5 million American and permanent resident labor force. THESE UNDISCLOSED LEGAL IMMIGRANT IMPORTATION HAS BEEN THE AGENDA FOR YEARS. Obama has promised honest, free trade with cheap foreign nations, but this has still not materialized. In addition we need to hold these countries accountable for unfair trade practices. Hopefully, the tea party, moderate conservatives will not fall for the old, retried agenda of both Liberal Democrats and Republicans and start a new path to a new successful economic future. Learn about the Mexican Social Security agreement at NUMBERSUSA & corruption revealed at JUDICIAL WATCH. DON'T BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND--START ASKING QUESTIONS OF THOSE THOSE PEOPLE SUPPOSEDLY SERVING YOUR NEEDS?

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Avatar for user 'Brittanicus'

Brittanicus | August 22, 2010 at 6:28 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

To me illegal immigration is one the critical issues of the impending November election, because of the costs entailed every year to financially support the millions of these poor, unschooled people coming to our shores is overwhelming. This is especially outrageous, when our government fails to consider the will of its own citizens and do only what’s necessary when discovered? But there is yet another severe problem that influences every American which is political campaign money. Unless we have our eyes and ears open beginning in November as, not too much has been presented by the press about this major problem. Even worse is that affects us all, of which the courts have said that it’s fine for our lawmakers to accept contributions, even from foreign corporations. President Obama has spoken about it, and I do agree with his assessment of this serious situation that undermines the whole concept of our voting system.

It literary means any foreign entity can spend millions of dollars on TV ads, either from say, (BP) British Petroleum or the Sultan of Brunei or the United Arab Emirates to impact US voters in November. This is relevant to both parties, which I think is nauseating. Every politician should be held accountable and held to the highest standard--after all they did swear allegiance to the American people and not to Wall Street. It’s likely we will be bombarded in the coming months, with lies and propaganda from either side of the aisle, in Washington. Citizens should make it job--ONE--to find out who is pushing these nefarious advertising, that our TV screen will be plastered with? We need to distinguish on the Democratic side, which entity is paying for their ads; enemies foreign or domestic. Trade Unions for instance should not be allowed to spend Union dues, to promote any lawmaker, unless the individual Union member is allowed to choose, which issue or politician?

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | August 23, 2010 at 9:57 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

I tend to find myself within the borders of the liberal camp on most issues, but I cannot support illegal immigration, and I will not vote for a candidate in the future that has not/does not support our laws enforcing only legal immigration into this country.

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Avatar for user 'dherrer1'

dherrer1 | August 23, 2010 at 7:25 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

I don't see why we need to make this so complicated. First, If you choose to come here illegally you are commiting a crime. If you choose to hire a person who is here ilegally you are also commiting a crime. We can build fences, add agents, etc but not until we make it UN PROFITABLE to hire a ilegal person will we make progress. We also need to get real and admit that we need a national ID card. Not so hard, banks do this to us all the time. Lets take the current SS card and make it better. Add a foto, address, etc. Than take 10% of the Border Patrol and convert then into auditors that go and check employeers!!! This will not cost billions. As for the dome sayers, id farmers can't harvest their crops we will do something we have always done. Invent our way out..build machines that can do this work and create higher paying jobs for people who will run these farm machines. These people come here for one reason and that's to work. Once they can't do this they will just go home

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