Immigrants deserve same rights as us

Chris Kok

When all prevailing challenges to society are going against your political opinion, it is easy to ignore them and focus on one that might work to your advantage.

This seems to be the strategy that Matt White used in his Jan. 16 column. He trivialized the Iraq quagmire, racial tensions, inadequate health care access and gender inequality. He chose to attack a group that is already disadvantaged: illegal immigrants.

White’s argument focused on the cost on social programs, specifically a $10.4 billion deficit due to illegal immigrants. So, why does this happen? Is this the full picture? And, does this have any significance?

The article from which White got his information was a study by the Center for Immigration Studies titled “The High Costs of Cheap Labor.” What else does this study have to say?

“With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal status or heavy use of most social services.

“The vast majority of illegals hold jobs. Thus the fiscal deficit they create for the federal government is not the result of an unwillingness to work.”

Illegal immigrants are hard workers who are paid low wages. They are highly oppressed due to their illegal status. If they ask for more pay at work, the boss can have them deported. By giving these workers legal status, they will be more likely to earn more, and thus less likely to rely on social services.

This report focuses solely on the cost to the government. What is the effect on the economy as a whole? On June 16, 2006, more than 500 economists signed an open letter to President Bush and Congress saying the economy actually benefits because of illegal immigration.

“Immigrants do not take American jobs. The American economy can create as many jobs as there are workers willing to work, so long as labor markets remain free, flexible and open to all workers on an equal basis.”

Immigration fills low skill jobs in which there are few applicants and spurs the creation of new business.

Going back to the $10.4 billion deficit caused by illegal immigrants: How significant is this compared to other costs? In the 2006 budget, $16.5 billion was spent on agricultural programs, including price supports. These price supports make it harder for small foreign farmers to afford to raise crops, thus increasing the pressure on illegal immigration. Eliminate the agriculture programs, and much of the illegal immigration will stop.

Another cost that the federal government is facing is the Iraq war. Currently, the government is spending $5.8 billion per month on the continuing occupation of Iraq, according to End the war, and we will see the savings.

Illegal immigration does not pose any serious costs to our society, so why is it an issue? Well, it is better in the eyes of the ruling class to have workers fighting amongst each other. If citizens are fighting non-citizens, then they cannot fight against record corporate profits. So let’s not divide ourselves along nationalist lines, but instead along class lines.

Immigrants, legal or not, are our brothers and sisters; they deserve our support.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].