Robert Reich sets the record straight when it comes to immigrants, jobs, and taxes.
There are a number of ‘facts’ spread about illegal immigrants and how they affect the United States, especially in recent years as the border and how to handle undocumented workers has moved into the spotlight. With President Donald Trump’s campaign, building a wall to keep such immigrants out has been a major talking point in major news outlets and in his own speeches.
One of these such ‘facts’ that has been spread throughout the nation, as it is one of the main issues opponents of immigration point to, is that illegal immigrants often take the jobs of Americans and live in the U.S. without paying taxes.
As Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor during Bill Clinton’s Administration, clarified,
“The labor markets that are taken by low-skilled immigrants have almost no native-born Americans in them because they are jobs that pay very, very low wages.”
In other words, illegal immigrants tend to take the jobs that American citizens don’t want, such as jobs working in agriculture, housekeeping, and maintenance. Though there are many Americans that work in these types of jobs, Reich points out that the immigrants that do make the move to this country aren’t the primary reason that job opportunities in the U.S. are dwindling.
Although an increase in trade and outsourcing has led to millions of jobs being taken by other countries, the main source of job losses—85 percent of losses, according to a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University—is technology. Machines and automation have replaced more and more people over the years, and Mireya Solis, a senior executive at the nonprofit public policy organization Brookings, said, “Simply put, we are producing more with fewer people.”
While many anti-immigration politicians, such as Donald Trump, spew misinformation about immigrants taking jobs from Americans, it’s actually corporations and machines that contribute most to the dwindling job markets. As Robert Reich pointed out,
“The last hundred years has been a history of demagogues who thrive on economic distress and who point the finger at scapegoats,” he said. “This is exactly what Donald Trump has done.”
Another point of misinformation is that immigrants are also living in the U.S. for free and don’t pay taxes like every other American citizen. This is false as well, according to the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy. The non-profit, non-partisan think tank evaluated how much immigrants paid in taxes in recent years and found that they pay $12 billion in taxes annually. This is in stark contrast to the federal taxes that Donald Trump has acknowledged not paying for the last 20 years. Reich stated that, in a way, immigrants “are actually subsidizing the rest of us.”