Top 6 Myths and Realities: Undocumented Immigrants

18 Mar

By Tina Kosikowski

In the next two weeks, MATT will explore the top 6 myths about undocumented immigrants, starting with #1. The Embassy of Mexico recently contributed to an article released by Hispanically Speaking News titled, “Myths and Realities Associated with Undocumented Immigrants.” What a fact-based dose of reality!

Visual courtesy of the

MYTH #1. Undocumented immigrants get US government services “for free”.

REALITY: They actually give more than they take. Over the past two decades, most studies that have tried to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that the tax revenue generated by immigrants —both legal and undocumented— exceeds the cost of the services they use. Thus, an Economic Report of the President published in 2005 estimated that all immigrants, regardless of status, paid on average US$80,000 per capita more in taxes than the cost of the government services they were expected to use over their lifetime.

Stephen C. Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, said that by 2007, the Social Security trust fund had received a net benefit of somewhere between US $120 billion and US $240 billion from undocumented immigrants. That represented 5.4% to 10.7% of the trust fund’s total assets of US$2.24 trillion that year.  The Social Security Administration estimates that two-thirds of unauthorized immigrant workers (about 5.6 million people) were paying into the system in 2007. Unauthorized immigrants paid a net contribution of US$12 billion in 2007 alone.

MYTH #2. Undocumented workers do not pay any taxes. (My personal favorite.)

MYTH #3. Undocumented workers are a burden on the United State’s economy.

MYTH #4. Undocumented immigrants take jobs away from U.S. citizens.

MYTH #5. Undocumented immigrants are a burden to healthcare.

MYTH #6. Undocumented immigrants cause higher crime rates.

You’ve heard them all before… those surprisingly persuasive (yet severely uninformed) anti-immigration arguments that are simply not true. Immigrant bashing never goes out of style, but thanks to the Embassy of Mexico and other fact-checkers linked in this article, these “undocumented” myths  have been set straight.

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