In the great debate on illegal migration and its consequences, a section of the intelligentsia spent the whole energy focusing on the economic impact of the immigrant influx and their absorption into the state fold. The debate around the immigration reform bill SS-744 also exposed the fact that illegal immigration is really expensive.
Some disturbing facts about United States cost of illegal immigration,
- 57 percent of all households by an immigrant (legal or illegal) are the recipient of at least one welfare program.
- For the sake of legalizing illegal migrants the cost to U.S. taxpayers will be 6.3 trillion dollars in the next 50 years.
- Illegal immigration breaking the agility of health care system as they could not afford to stay open after being endlessly swamped by illegal immigrants who were simply not able to pay for the services they were receiving.
- U.S. taxpayers spend $12,000,000,000 per annum on primary and secondary school education for the children of illegal immigrants.
Even in the case of lawful immigration seven government cabinet agencies receive more than half a billion requests a year which include those from U.S. citizens, immigrants and nonresident aliens. The American Action Forum (AAF) run by former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Holtz-Eakin says immigrants are costing $30 billion a year to the state.
A skilled immigrant spends roughly 18 hours and $2,500 filling out at least 16 forms on his path to naturalization. Overall 234 government forms are linked to immigration and it takes 98.8 million hours of paperwork per year.
Immigration related paperwork is draining $5.9 billion annually from the wealth of U.S. No one doubts that immigration system needs reform but at the same time all agree that more than that it is the regulatory system that needs an immediate overhaul.
A recent contends that contrary to general perception the U.S. economy would only benefit lavishly if the illegal immigrants were granted citizenship. It says granting undocumented immigrants immediate citizenship would add $1.4 trillion to the exchequer by way of increased tax revenue and job growth.
America with its 39.9 million foreign-born people as in 2010 has 44 percent naturalized citizens and 24 percent legal permanent residents. Now the contentious issue is granting citizenship rights to 12 million illegal immigrants.
WASHINGTON — The number of illegal immigrants in the US has been rising after plateuing off in recent years. This alarming finding comes from a report of the non-partisan Pew Research Center . To the question as to how many undocumented immigrants are in the US, the Pew Centre says the US had 11.7 undocumented immigrants in 2012.
The illegal migration touched an all-time high of 12.2 million in 2007. Studying the trends from 2010-2013, Pw Centre asserted that Illegal immigration is certainly back with a vengeance. The new surge has more to do with the revival of US economy.
The funding is set to more new ammunition to the Republicans who want harsh border patrolling at the Mexico border before it can consider a broader overhaul of the immigration laws in a bipartisan exercise.
The study notes that the total number of undocumented immigrants living in the USA had been flat in recent years, with many entering the country and leaving it. The authors of the report said it was difficult to attribute the possible increase to any one special factor. Jeffrey Passel, the senior demographer at the Pew Research Center noted that rise and fall in illegal immigration traditionally mirrored the state of the U.S. economy.
Precisely it relates to employment opportunities. The new figures come at a time the Congress is trying to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to stop future waves of undocumented immigrants into the country.
Former Border Patrol agents have rejected the theory that only 11 million people are living illegally in the country.They say the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. will be close to 20 million. They also argue that the lesson from the 1986 amnesty was that more people cornered benefits than the government initially envisaged.
Demographers say the number of illegal immigrants peaked at 12.4 million in 2007 before it dropped and leveled off at slightly more than 11 million. The Homeland Security Department estimate with January 2011 as the basis puts the illegal population as 11.5 million.
Many studies have also challenged the government estimates including the Bear Stearns report which contented that the actual number could be as high as 20 million.
The Senate passed the new Immigration Reform bill in July in which $46 billion is committed for securing America’s border with Mexico and facilitate the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship in 13 years.
Bob Goodlatte chair of the House Judiciary Committee that handled most of the immigration bills, said Pew’s report only affirms their approach. The increase in illegal immigration invalidates Obama regime’s claim that that the borders are secure than ever, Goodlatte said in a statement. Any successful immigration reform must secure the border and guarantee the enforcement of laws.
The main reasons for fall in undocumented immigration during 2007 to 2009 was the shrinking of US economy and loss of jobs. Border enforcement got tougher under the Obama administration deporting 400,000 people a year. During that time Mexican economy was also improving and would-be immigrants stayed home.
Undoubtedly certain flaws constrain the current US immigration policy. That is why President Obama called it ‘broken’ and fixing it. These flaws are linked to the ills that the state is facing. It may be bulging fiscal deficits, lag in job creation or losing competitiveness. The new immigration bill seeks to rectify many pitfalls in the current immigration policy in the US.
Under the Obama immigration policy under consideration, a positive fiscal impact will be reducing the deficit by billions of dollars. The Senate bill will then slash the deficit by $200 billion in the next 10 years and $700 billion in the next decade. The deficit will be bridged when the spending shoots up and revenue spiralling. In a decade the government pay out of $262 billion on Medicaid will be levelled off by raising revenue to the tune of $459 billion.
The new bill has a road map of 12 years of waiting. That means the legislation will constrain undocumented workers winning provisional status from receiving a broad swath of government benefits. That will also keep the costs down. It is worth noting that the broader economic impact would be significant when certain factors are considered broadly. They include increases in
- Extra Labour force
- Raising average wages
- High capital investment
So, the bill will catapult economic output by 3.4 percent in 2023 and 5.6 percent in 2033.
Immigration Lawyers Support
Meanwhile, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) hailed the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 (I-Squared Act) moved by some Senators calling for critical reforms in high-skilled immigration sector. It notes that America badly needs innovation, creativity, and job growth for economic recovery. AILA Treasurer William Stock urged the President and Congress to enact a comprehensive bill to address the nation’s crying immigration needs. The I-Squared Act calls for expanding the number of green cards to meet economic demand without taking away green cards from other immigration categories.
The bipartisan US immigration Bill has brought many immigrant tax issues to the centre stage. The implications of US Immigration tax Laws have stoked a raging debate over undocumented residents getting citizenships in a fluke. That is why opponents of the bill are seething that it is a gift for lawbreakers and outright “amnesty”.
But what makes the bill stand out is its insistence on making all aliens tax complaints. The Bill proposes settling immigration tax liabilities by the illegal immigrants before being put into the orbit of graduate citizenship in 10 to 12 years.
In a span of 10 years, while preparing the illegal immigrants for citizenship with back taxes and provisional status to green card and regular employment in the U.S, the new Bill underscores making illegal immigrants tax compliant as a basis for mainstreaming. This targets mainly those who entered the USA illegally before December31, 2011. They have to pass a criminal check and pay back taxes to get a provisional status.
There are about 11 million illegal immigrants waiting immediate amnesty and being placed on a path to citizenship. The Senate proposal marks Democrats and Republicans to allow immigrants pay at least $2,000 in fines and immigration tax to meet other valid criteria for citizenship. The Republican members harp more on border security control before the more undocumented people cross over to become citizens.
The premise of the Bill seeks to give an economic advantage colour with the proposed assimilation programme. US immigration tax laws are tough yet a humane way in the present circumstances. Interestingly the immigration issue also gives Republicans an opportunity to reconnect with Hispanic voters. The 71 percent vote share taken by President Barack Obama in his second time cannot be ignored. Fortunately a climate of consensus is unfolding—around two-thirds of Americans want a citizenship path for the illegal immigrants than harsh deportation.
The responsibility to verify the legal status of workers employed in worksites is vested with the federal agency Immigration Customs and Enforcement called ICE. It has a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy. The focal areas are critical infrastructure worksites like airports, nuclear plants, seaports, chemical plants, and defence facilities. They also verify those employers who exploit undocumented workers.
The ICE can take action against even ordinary businesses such as hotels, restaurants, construction firms, food plants, SMEs etc in case they are hiring undocumented workers.
Prior to 1986, employers were risk-free with regard to hiring undocumented immigrants. At the most, they will lose a worker through deportation. From 1986, the worksite became an enforcement site for immigration law to check the work authorization of every worker. The employers were slapped penalties and criminal prosecution for hiring workers without appropriate documents.
So an employer will be in legal peril if known he employs undocumented immigrant workers in case business is not part of the critical infrastructure.
Employers have to confirm the work authorization of every new hire using Form I-9 for the purpose. Civil and criminal penalties for hiring undocumented immigrant workers range from a minimum of $375 per unauthorized worker for a first offence with a maximum of $1,600 per worker for a third or subsequent offence. But engaging hiring undocumented workers become a pattern and practice the fine can be $3,000 per employee or imprisonment for six months.
In President Obama’s view the businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States. Otherwise businesses are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by fair rules.
The new immigration reform Bill is part of the President’s proposal to stop unfair hiring practices and hold errant companies accountable. It is also an incentive to ethical employers who play by the rules to verify that their employees are perfectly legal and qualified.
There are dedicated agencies in the US state department who handle various aspects of immigration and related issues. The United States Immigration and Naturalization services (INS) is such an old agency established way back in 1891 for handling legal as well as illegal immigration practices.
But the legacy INS ceased to exist on March 1, 2003, after a restructuring which saw most of its functions transferred from the Department of Justice to three new entities:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
All these agencies were put under the newly created Department of Homeland Security. The restructuring happened to annul all security lapses through faulty immigration after the terror attacks on September 11 of 2001.
In the restructuring, the INS investigative and enforcement functions were combined with related activities of U.S. Customs investigators, the Federal Protective Service, and Federal Air Marshal Service to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The border functions were combined with U.S. Customs Inspectors to create the U. S. Customs and Border Protection.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services took over the agency and launched the Federal Air Marshal Service as well as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. The tasks of immigration services, permanent residence, naturalization and asylum became the responsibility USCIS.
In its heydays the INS was responsible for preventing unlawful immigrants from gaining benefits such as social security or unemployment benefits. The immigration and Naturalization Services keeps a tab on suspicious activities with immigrants. When alerted they will trace illegal immigrants and detain them before deporting back to the home country.
Since the immigration process is an overwhelming process it is advisable for an applicant to seek the guidance and consultancy of immigration firms for help in matters of immigration and naturalization processes.
The immigration rules of the United States are always conjoined to its tax structure. In a way the immigration in USA is merit driven and looks at a person’s ingenuity to contribute to the economy by way of skills, knowledge and entrepreneurship. Therefore those seeking U.S. immigration must know rules of taxation affecting different types of immigrants’ especially undocumented aliens.
Under the provisions of the new Immigration Reform Bill the immigration tax laws will be sharpened to absorb the illegal immigrants numbering 11 million into a pathway of citizenship by way of more back taxes and the addition of more taxpayers to the tax base. This will progressively offset any wasteful expenditure at the social security front in a few years.
Tax Laws and Citizenship
The treatment of aliens under the internal revenue and social security laws of the United States is contingent on the status of aliens under the immigration laws of the United States. The immigration laws classify aliens into three:
Immigrants can reside permanently in the United States and get the green card. The green card holder can enter and leave the United States without a visa or re-entry permits at will and earn income in the United States. citizen.
Back Tax Issues
Under the new Immigration Bill citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants would be a long drawn process with tax tests.
- Gaining Provisional legal status after passing background checks and paying back taxes
- Applying for green cards after PLS in 10 years
- Applying for citizenship three years into getting green cards
In tax matters, the tax laws speak of only resident aliens and nonresident aliens. While resident aliens are taxed as U.S. citizens nonresident aliens are taxed as per the Internal Revenue Code.
Ever since Ronald Reagan initiated the immigration reforms in 1986 covering an estimated 5 million unlawful immigrants the United States has not witnessed any large scale reform initiatives on immigrants as the Obama initiative in 2013.
The Obama initiative which came out as a bipartisan bill on immigration saw the nod of the Senate and is awaiting its destiny at the House of Representatives. In the House of Representatives the Republicans outnumber the Democrats and may see many surprises. There is an effort to give an economic flavor to the new Bill by making it an effort aimed at expanding the base of tax paying population.
Obama’s new bipartisan Migration Reform Bill is seeking to mainstream 11 million immigrants who are illegaly living in the US. The Bill hopes to provide citizenship to them in 13 years under certain conditions. The undocumented migrants have to become proficient in English, pass criminal detection checks, pay fines and back taxes.
Under the lens of immigration tax laws, 11 million immigrants joining the legal workforce will add to more competition but they will expand the tax base.
The tax immigrants after gaining legal status will create jobs as they become productive and earn higher wages. When legal workers earn higher wages and spend money on housing, clothing and food demand for goods and services will shoot up the economy will grow.
Legal wage earners will increase spending tax revenues too will increase. It has been noted that in year 2010, undocumented Latino workers missed out on $2.2 billion in income and the federal government lost $1.4 billion in taxes.
If the Immigration Reform Act of 2006 had been signed into a law there would have been an estimated $65 billion in new revenue to the federal exchequer between 2007 and 2016.
Prior to the current Immigration Bill that Obama took the lead in introducing is an extension of Obama’s humane approach to the problem of illegal immigrants and fixing it positively.
In a measure what is now known as Obama Immigrant work permit Obama showed his interest in utilizing the manpower of second generation illegal immigrants.
Offering an olive branch to illegal immigrants to stay in the country under the plan Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and apply for a work permit the programme started from 15 August.
The program was a bonanza for young immigrants arrived in the U.S. as kids or teens before their 16th birthday and had been living in the US for at least five years, in school or graduated or served in the military.
Only work no Citizenship
The Obama work permit stops the agony of deportation and gives work to the unauthorized immigrants devoid of any criminal record. They can stay and use the work permit for two years but would not get citizenship.
The process of work permit applicant needs $465 as paperwork fee. The immigrant applications do not use taxpayer dollars as fees are collected.
Says an analyst, American taxpayers will not allow to bail out illegal immigrants under President Obama’s irresponsible policies. The government says close to one million immigrants in the first year would be eligible to escape deportation. The remaining 151,000 immigrants would be rejected as ineligible.
The applications take two to 10 days for the Homeland Security Department to scan and file it. It takes four weeks to make an appointment for immigrants to submit fingerprints and take photographs. Background check takes six weeks and the government takes more months to make a final decision before a work permit is issued. Overall it takes 6 months. The immigrants would not be detained by immigration authorities while their application is pending.
Ever since the new immigration law came into circulation, the focus has been on the demand upon illegal immigrants to pay ‘back taxes’ in what can be called an immigration tax. Some gain the impression that the immigration bill is now all about tax collection.
The prime selling point of the “Gang of Eight’s” pathway to citizenship for estimated 11 million illegal immigrants is the clause to pay “back taxes” in addition to other fees and penalties. So the people who came illegally have to pay a penalty but not forever exclaimed John McCain.
McCain, the bipartisan Senate group’s chief negotiator noted that back taxes and a fine should make sure that they get in line behind everybody else.
However, confusion prevails to the extent to which the sweeping immigration-reform would pursue past taxes owed by immigrants. Many undocumented immigrants pay their income taxes may be by using Social Security numbers or filing tax returns through taxpayer identification numbers.
So immigration experts speculate that there is not as much money waiting to be tapped as one might expect. Determining back taxes by the large share of immigrants who have worked for cash and off the books could be a challenge.
Critics of “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants say politicians talk about extracting back taxes because it appeals to American pride that everyone should pay their share and there should be consequences for staying illegally.
Steven Camarota, Director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies calls it rhetoric to make the amnesty slip down immigration enforcement and overall reductions in immigration.
In 2007, President George W. Bush persuaded late Edward Kennedy to yank a back-taxes requirement for an immigration bill as it was too much of a bureaucratic headache to implement. Even the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 did not include a back-taxes requirement.