Friday, November 21, 2014

The Basic Misconception About Illegal Aliens

Jerry Pournelle advises that we not panic about Obama's amnesty announcement. Whether you agree that Obama has gone too far or not, I want to point to another topic: a fundamental misconception of the harmlessness of illegal aliens. Pournelle falls into this same trap. He writes:
This resulted in several million — the estimates vary — persons who are criminal by definition — they are illegally in the United States — but not otherwise, and some portion of them — again the numbers vary — have been faithfully employed in construction, farm work, road work, and as housekeepers and nannies.  At least that’s the situation in California where there are said to be many more than a million such persons, not wanted for any crime, many valued for their services, but illegally here and subject to deportation.
In not so many words, he is saying that they are here illegally, but otherwise positively contribute to society and do no harm.

It is a naive and simplistic viewpoint. Their illegalities do not stop simply by being here illegally. As Pournelle observes, they are "faithfully employed in construction, farm work, road work, and as housekeepers and nannies." Well, if they are faithfully employed, it necessarily means that they must have shown proof of a right to work--either a green card or proof of citizenship. But they are here illegally, how do they satisfy the law then? 

First, they may be paid under the table. If that is the case, they and/or their employer is evading U.S. taxes--not only income, but Social Security and Medicare employment taxes.

Second, if they are not being paid under the table, then these "faithfully employed" illegal aliens are engaging in identify theft. The Center for Immigration Studies notes:
  • Illegal immigration and high levels of identity theft go hand-in-hand. States with the most illegal immigration also have high levels of job-related identity theft. In Arizona, 33 percent or all identity theft is job-related (as opposed to identity theft motivated simply by profit). In Texas it is 27 percent; in New Mexico, 23 percent; in Colorado, 22 percent; California, 20 percent; and in Nevada, 16 percent. Eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of illegal aliens in their total population are among the top 10 states in identity theft (Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, Nevada, New York, Georgia, and Colorado).
  • Children are prime targets. In Arizona, it is estimated that over one million children are victims of identity theft. In Utah, 1,626 companies were found to be paying wages to the SSNs of children on public assistance under the age of 13. These individuals suffer very real and very serious consequences in their lives.
  • Illegal aliens commit felonies in order to get jobs. Illegal aliens who use fraudulent documents, perjure themselves on I-9 forms, and commit identity theft in order to get jobs are committing serious offenses and are not “law abiding.” 
A 2008 article from City Journal reports:
The top five states in terms of reported identity theft in 2007 all have large immigrant populations—the border states of Arizona, California, and Texas, as well as Florida and Nevada. People who pilfer legitimate identities in these states are much more likely than in other parts of the country to use them to gain employment unlawfully—the most common reason that illegal aliens steal personal information. In Arizona, for instance, 36 percent of all identity theft is for employment purposes, compared with only 5 percent in Maine, a state with far fewer illegal aliens. “To many law enforcement leaders in Arizona, this suggests that Arizona’s identity-theft epidemic is directly linked to the problem of illegal immigration,” says a recent report by Identity Theft 911, an Arizona company that helps businesses and individuals protect themselves. 
Government investigations have only begun to uncover the extent of the crime wave. When ICE agents raided six Swift meat-processing plants in December 2006, they found widespread evidence of fraud involving the use of real people’s identities; the feds eventually charged 148 illegal aliens in the case with crimes related to identity theft. In the first year and a half after Arizona created a special unit to deal with identity theft, investigators said that they were able to purchase more than 1,000 phony documents that made use of real people’s identities. A so-called three-pack—a Social Security card, a driver’s license, and a permanent-resident card—costs on average just $160 in the state. 
Government statistics probably grossly underestimate the size of the problem. Many local police departments don’t track identity theft accurately, and the FTC only reports complaints that it receives. By combining data on complaints with FTC consumer surveys—which show that far more people have had their identity stolen than report it—Identity Theft 911 estimates that in Arizona alone, some 1.57 million people, or a quarter of the state’s population, have been victims over the last six years. About one-fifth are children—whose Social Security numbers are especially valuable targets, since the kids usually aren’t employed, making discovery of the fraud less likely. 
 It doesn't stop there. Illegal aliens place a tremendous burden on health care systems. Money News, for instance, reported in 2013:

The United States currently has an estimated 11 million immigrants who entered this country illegally. According to the National Research Council, the migration of these individuals into the United States costs American taxpayers $346 billion annually.  

Now we are starting to get a feel for the costs being absorbed by one sector — the U.S. healthcare system — to treat this population. And the cost is staggering.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the current cost of treating uninsured immigrants who entered this country illegally at all levels of government to be $4.3 billion a year, primarily at emergency rooms and free clinics. This doesn't take into account the billions being absorbed by in-patient care delivered by hospitals.

Who is picking up these costs? Every American taxpayer — not to mention medical facilities and insurance companies who turn around and raise their rates for everyone else. 

For instance, it may surprise you to learn that immigrants who entered this country illegally, who have not paid one dime into Medicaid, are receiving Medicaid benefits. Kaiser Healthcare News reports that "federal law generally bars immigrants who enter this country illegally from being covered by Medicaid. But a little-known part of the state-federal health insurance program for the poor has long paid about $2 billion a year for emergency treatment for a group of patients who, according to hospitals, mostly comprise this class of immigrants."

A 2007 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that in a four-year period, about 99 percent of those who used Emergency Medicaid were determined to be immigrants that entered this country illegally.

This only covers emergency room care, but many thousands of patients in the United States who lack health insurance but who need long-term care wind up lingering in hospitals for many weeks, months or even years because the current healthcare system doesn't offer workable solutions for them.
There is a term for these people: "permanent patients," because they have no relatives, insurance or an established address where they can go once released.

Ashish Jha, associate professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health, told NBC, "It's completely illogical that hospitals have to spend about $2,000 a day on patients who could be cared for much more cheaply in a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility. But because the law prohibits hospitals from discharging patients without a plan in place for ongoing care — and because nursing homes and rehabs are not required to take patients without insurance — many hospitals wind up keeping these patients for long periods of time."

Stephen Frank’s Political News and Views observed, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the California Hospital Association (CHA), illegal aliens cost hospitals across the state about $1.25 billion a year in unpaid medical care…The CHA recently stated that $26 million of those costs are absorbed in the eight hospitals in Ventura County alone.”

“Your health care and lives have been endangered by criminals from other nations--we call them illegal aliens. We must demand that every elected official either enforce the immigration laws or resign--illegal aliens are killing us.”

"In 2003, the American Southwest saw 77 hospitals enter bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills incurred by illegal aliens. A staggering 84 hospitals in California have been forced to close their doors because of the growing crisis. Hospitals which manage to remain open, then pass the unpaid costs onto the rest of us, which translates into more out-of-pocket expenses and higher insurance premiums for all Americans."
 Illegal aliens also consume more social services than they provide in taxes or economic benefits. From a report by FAIR:
  • Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments. 
  • The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117. The fiscal impact per household varies considerably because the greatest share of the burden falls on state and local taxpayers whose burden depends on the size of the illegal alien population in that locality 
  • Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments. 
  • At the federal level, about one-third of outlays are matched by tax collections from illegal aliens. At the state and local level, an average of less than 5 percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration is recouped through taxes collected from illegal aliens. 
  • Most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes. Among those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal aliens when they file tax returns. Many are also claiming tax credits resulting in payments from the U.S. Treasury.
  • (See also this study). The Heritage Foundation observes:
    In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household. This cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.

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