Immigrants are a boon to America's economy

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In Don Opacic’s world, undocumented immigrants “contribute no skills and are added to a welfare state that is broke.” (“Will Obama Ever Learn That Charity Begins at Home?” July 28 letter).

Unfortunately, he backs up this xenophobic claim with a series of false assumptions and prejudices, but no facts. Here are some facts:

• According to the Internal Revenue Service, about 6 million undocumented workers pay income taxes. They also pay state, local and sales taxes.

• According to Social Security actuaries, undocumented workers contribute about $15 billion per year to Social Security while withdrawing about $1 billion. Overall, they have contributed about $300 billion, or 10 percent, to the trust fund.

• Undocumented immigrants are younger, on average, than the overall population, and few are eligible to collect Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, so their contributions actually are helping to support a growing population of senior citizens.

• Immigrants spend their money. Countless studies show that they pump almost all of what they make back into the economy, which, in turn, creates more jobs.

• Studies from economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California at Davis show that states with more undocumented workers have higher wages and higher productivity than those with fewer immigrants.

This also grows our economy and creates jobs.

Granted, there are costs to immigration, but there also are tremendous benefits. To assert, as Mr. Opacic does, that undocumented immigrants are undermining our economy and not contributing to it is simply false.

R.J. Hufnagel


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