Sunday, July 27, 2008

Xenophobia strikes again

I got another one of those odd xenophobic "illegal aliens are destroying the country" e-mails yesterday. It had been passed on by a person who I had thought was capable of engaging in critical thinking, but apparently not.

Everytime I'm the lucky (?) recipient of one of these epistles, I marvel again at the explicit illogic they display: illegal aliens are simultaneously stealing jobs from hard-working Americans and bleeding us dry by sucking on the welfare teat, collecting food stamps, and generally enjoying the good life. I want to know how you do that: How do you steal jobs and sit on your ass at the same time? Seriously. Tell me how. It sounds like a great gig.

The bitter truth is that yes, jobs are being taken from U.S. citizens and filled by undocumented immigrants, but it's not the immigrants doing the stealing -- it's the employers who have figured out they can get away with violating multiple labor and tax laws to increase company profits. They ignore faked IDs, pay sub-legal wages, violate OSHA standards, and generally treat their cheap labor pool as disposable. If workers think conditions are unsafe, the overtime hours are illegal, or they've been shorted on their pay, all it takes is one phone call to ICE and the loud-mouthed employee is gone. Doesn't matter if it's a meat packing plant employing thousands of people, or one suburban housewife with a cleaning lady; employers willing to exploit undocumented aliens know full well the power of three simple syllables: la migra.

If undocumented workers are injured on the job, they're not going to get appropriate medical care and disability. They're going to get a one way trip back to El Salvador or Nigeria or Bangladesh. You know those guys hanging out Home Depot hoping for a day's work? Well, if they put in 12 hours and at the end of it get told they're out of luck, they are. All they can do is curse silently and hope they're the next job they take actually pays something.

A favorite line of the anti-immigrant crowd is that undocumented workers are "stealing" our Social Security benefits. How? If they're working with fake IDs and the employer is going through the motions of doing everything legally -- FICA deductions, for example, and state and federal income taxes -- then they are paying into the system with every check. But you know something? They're never going to get any of it back. They can't file for refunds, and they can't apply for retirement benefits, because they haven't paid in under their own legal identity. As far as the IRS and the Social Security Administration are concerned, people who made contributions under a name other than their own have never contributed at all. No refunds, no benefits.

The IRS has acknowledged that there are many millions of dollars in income taxes withheld annually that are never claimed through refunds even though they are being withheld from persons whose incomes are so low they would qualify. The IRS, however, does not go looking for people who don't file returns unless those people owe the government money. Why should they? And, if you don't believe me, next spring if you know you've got a refund coming, don't bother to file a tax return. Just don't hold your breath waiting for the IRS to find you.

As for the sitting back and sucking the rest of us dry by collecting food stamps, welfare, whatever, does anyone with two brain cells left to rub together actually believe that, given the current anti-immigrant climate in this country, undocumented aliens are going to walk into government agencies to voluntarily complete a foot-high pile of paperwork ? These people are smart enough to survive horrendous desert crossings, they manage to scrape by on poverty wages and still send money back to their home countries -- why would they then be stupid enough to draw attention to themselves by trying to get on welfare?

I really wish someone would shove a cork in Lou Dobbs' mouth . . .


  1. I'm glad to see this in writing. I know when people bitch and moan about "illegals" I want so desperately to talk logic, but they're not interested. They want someone convenient to blame for the decimation of the middle class, and they'll be damned if they can look at the employers. Or themselves.

  2. most of what you say is true..but there is a lot of reason to be concerned when they steal your ss number,as they can also use it to get credit cards, and once your identy is stolen, your fucked...they use the ss card to get a drivers liscens in your name and if they have a wreck and run off...your fucked..i had a friend who had her id stolen by an illegal alien, and the police showed up at her door to arrest her for not responding to a warrent for her arrest concerning a wreck she had never had...took her forever to get that one straighten out and not counting the time and money it took to get it straightened out..what if they steal some old farts ss number and use it for a job and they have ss taken out etc. and this person is on social security and can't make but a certain amt of money or they have to pay it back..and one year they get a notice saying they owe ss xamount of money for making too much that's a big problem..especially in texas, arizona, new mexico and calif...where the population of illigals is larger than most of the rest of the's a problem..but the ones that should be penalized are the employees who hire them and look the other way when they know they are breaking the law..

  3. JackieSue, having someone else paying into your Social Security account if you've hit full retirement age (66 for people born after Jan 1, 1943) doesn't do a thing to your benefits -- you can make all the money you want and it doesn't matter. The monthly benefit isn't going to be reduced at all.

    It could affect income taxes, but that's unlikely, too, given that the typical undocumented alien with a fake ID doesn't make much of an hourly wage. I think the area where identity theft becomes an issue is the example you gave of someone using fake ID and than being involved in a traffic accident or committing a crime. That's a potential problem, but I probably not a very common one.

    Speaking of SS, though, reminded me that I wonder just how much of an issue this is -- SS numbers belonging to real live people getting used -- because the SS administration sends out annual reports. Wouldn't the typical person wonder what the heck was going on if suddenly their account showed income they knew they hadn't earned?

  4. This is one of the issues I have with Lou Dobbs. The Kosher meat packing plant that was recently raided brings to light several truths; these people are being exploited and were harshly penalized by "our" courts for something that many American hands have been complicit in, and have profited from. It is highly unlikely that they created their own "fake IDs", but were likely guided by company managment to others who obtained fraudulent paperwork. Yes, immigration is an issue, but a bunch of nearly illiterate Guatamalans are not the ones gaming the system -- exploitive profiteers are.

    I could tell you stories about the local right-wingers who subdivided their rental properties into tiny cubicals that were then rented to imported workers who were then paid sub-par wages to throw up the ubiquitous McMansions that are now the subject of the "housing bubble" which has burst. And this was in Atlanta, in 1987.

    IMHO, our economy is imploding, not because of immigrants, but because of greed; offshore corporate tax shelters, traitorous companies who outsource jobs and entire factories to countries that offer cheap disposable labor, and of course, deregulated banks and pointless wars of imperialism. This has been in the making for decades, and we are now reaping the rewards of many years of unbridled avarice.

    Illegal Immigration is a red herring. One of the few things that politicos and their mouthpieces seem to excel at.


  5. I get widows benefits i get a certain amt. im allowed to make up to $15,000 before I have to start paying back one dollar for evry 2 i make..if someone has stolen my id and using my ss number and between what i make and they are making it would put me over the limit..then i would have to pay it back..wouldn't know about it until tax time, but in the mean time it's been done..

  6. plus it also just boils down to 'illegal''s against the law and that is just one of several they break..starting from entry..sorry this is a touchy subject for me..i wish no one harm but i expect the laws of the land to be obeyed..of course bush and his buddies have been breaking them left and right..


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