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The head of an activist Hispanic organization asserted last week in an interview “there’s no data” to support allegations that massive numbers of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. 1) are depressing wages for American workers; and 2) are taking jobs from American workers. For the record, neither of her assertions is true – but then again, so much of the illegal immigration debate is devoid of honesty.

Janet Murguia, executive director for the extremist National Council of La Raza, told the Arizona Daily Sun: “As long as there’s a need for a labor force that’s going to fill very difficult and challenging jobs … we’re never going to know the answer to that question.”

As far as I know, there has always been a need for a “labor force” in America to “fill very difficult and challenging jobs,” so Murguia’s statement is little more than meaningless hyperbole. Taken in context, however, her statement that illegal aliens are doing jobs Americans won’t is also without merit.

A May 2004 analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that, due to increased levels of illegal immigration, American workers are earning an average of $1,700 less than they otherwise would be. High-school drop-outs – some 10 million of the native workforce – face the toughest competition, the report said, as well as the greatest negative-wage impact, while blacks and Hispanic natives are more negatively affected as ethnic groups because a “much larger share of minorities are in direct competition with immigrants,” according to the findings of Harvard University professor George J. Borjas, who drafted the analysis for the center.

Immigrant advocates also claim the millions of illegal aliens are a net gain for the U.S. economy because they pay more in taxes than they use in government-provided services.

In an August 2004 report, CIS said illegals actually cost taxpayers $10 billion more a year than they contribute to the federal treasury, based on 2002 figures. “These figures are only for the federal government; costs at the state and local level are also likely to be significant,” said the report, adding: ” The study also finds that if illegals were given amnesty, the fiscal deficit at the federal level would grow to nearly $29 billion.”

Now, I realize analyses and studies can say one thing or another to argue against or support a particular point of view. But put this illegal migrant/economics debate to the smell test, and a few things should become obvious.

One, most taxes “paid” by illegals most likely are sales taxes, because they do purchase goods while here in the United States. But those taxes are a fraction of what income tax rates tend to be, and besides, illegals can control the amount of sales taxes they pay by either refusing to buy goods in the U.S. or buying lesser amounts of them here. It should also be noted that Mexican workers illegally in the U.S. send upwards of $30 billion back home annually. That money, for sure, doesn’t remain in the U.S. economy.

Two, according to numerous reports and sources, most illegal migrants come here under the radar, and hence are paid cash for their work. As such, they aren’t in our “system,” which makes perfect sense considering that, since they are here illegally, they wouldn’t want to draw any attention to themselves. And besides, most don’t have Social Security numbers – a must for legitimate employers who in turn have to file tax and S.S. payments on each employee with state and federal governments.

Three, it is a fact that scores of employers use illegal migrant labor because they can hire them more cheaply. Anyone even remotely connected with the issue of illegal immigration knows this. Illegals can and do work for less money than American citizens, because our standard of living is much higher here than in the home countries of the migrants (where a dollar, by the way, goes much further). If a building contractor can hire an illegal alien crew for $10 an hour apiece, wouldn’t he do that instead of hiring an American crew for double that rate? Yes, he would, and does – every day of the week. So it’s not that Americans won’t do a construction job, it’s that we can’t do it for $10 an hour when we live in a $20-per-hour country.

Economically speaking, migrants working for less money are indeed depressing American wages while simultaneously taking jobs away from American workers. The Janet Murguias of this country are lying to you when they insist otherwise.

So much dishonesty in the immigration debate has cost this nation dearly, especially economically. But it seems to be a price our leaders are willing to pay, since too few of them are genuinely serious about clamping down on illegal immigration and punishing American employers who hire illegal workers (which is already against the law, by the way). Then again, what do we expect? Our leaders have always had a penchant for being overly generous with someone else’s money.

Here’s an idea. Maybe we should replace our elected leaders with illegal workers. It won’t solve anything but at least they’ll be cheaper.

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