Myth or Truth: Are “Illegal Immigrants” taking American Jobs?

 Many Americans can’t take low paying jobs because they have to pay taxes. 

Are Americans competing with the “illegals” to pick produce, drive taxis and wash dishes? How exactly are they ruining the American way of life?

According to the Homeland Security statistics, over 14.4 million immigrants obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States in the past 10 years. There are many myths and truths about whether immigrants (lawful or unlawful) are causing harm to America’s economy.


Immigrants don’t pay taxes

Undocumented immigrants are already U.S. taxpayers. Collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The impact of undocumented immigrants on the budgets of local and state governments cited Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) figures showing that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants file and pay income taxes each year.  Although undocumented immigrants cannot get a Social Security number (“SSN”), they can  file an income tax return by applying for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number ( or “ITIN”).  An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS for individuals who cannot get a SSN and are required to file income tax returns. ITINs are only used for tax reporting and serve no other purpose.


Immigrants come here to take welfare

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law, even LEGAL immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.


Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries

In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households, immigrants and their businesses contribute billions in tax revenue to U.S. federal, state, and local governments. While it is true immigrants send billions of dollars a year to their home countries, this is one of the most targeted and effective forms of direct foreign investments. This is a similar practice of wealth Americans who send their money off shore to foreign banks because their lenient taxes.


They take jobs and opportunity away from Americans

The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students allow many U.S. graduate programs to keep their doors open. The American economy needs immigrant workers. The belief that immigrants take jobs that can otherwise be filled by hard-working Americans has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data.

Removing the approximately 8 million unauthorized workers in the United States would not automatically create 8 million job openings for unemployed Americans.  For one, removing millions of undocumented workers from the economy would also remove millions of entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers. The economy would actually lose jobs. Second, native-born workers and immigrant workers tend to possess different skills that often complement one another.

Immigrants, regardless of status, fill the growing gap between expanding low-skilled jobs and the shrinking pool of native-born Americans who are willing to take such jobs. By facilitating the growth of such sectors as retail, agriculture, landscaping, restaurants, and hotels, low-skilled immigrants have enabled those sectors to expand, attract investment, and create middle-class jobs in management, design and engineering, bookkeeping, marketing and other areas that employ U.S. citizens.


Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy

During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born, filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and low-skill ends of the spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in key sectors, start their own businesses, and contribute to a thriving economy.  Most immigrants arrive in prime working age. That means we haven’t spent a penny on their education, yet they are transplanted into our workforce and will contribute billions toward our social security system over the next 20 years.


 Myth Busted!

Immigrants are not taking jobs away from Americans. They contribute to the American economy. Immigrants take low-skilled jobs that native-born Americans are unwilling to take.

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