Joshua Heath: The effect of illegal immigration

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

I feel compelled to respond to Larry Blanton’s Letter regarding Phillip Germain’s letter from Feb 3. Yes, this is a letter about a letter about a letter. How very exciting.

Let’s dissect a few of his comments. Blanton begins with:

“Mr. Germain and the rest of his ilk never distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. We have at least 11 million illegal immigrants in California alone, that cost our state $30 billion a year, according to the conservative National Economics Editorial. Even if it’s half that, it’s far too much.”

This needs some fact-checking. First, according to the non-partisan Pew Research Center, there are 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the United States, as of 2016. Blanton is right; that figure is too high. That’s why we ought to legalize these individuals.

In addition, he is correct in pointing out that illegal immigrants do cost taxpayers money, approximately $54.2 billion a year, according to the conservatives at the Heritage Foundation.

Some may consider this a grave injustice: “Dang Nabbit! My hard-earned income is going toward lawbreaking immigrants!”

But in my view, it is money well spent. Undocumented immigrants contribute ten times more wealth than they take from society, through their consumer spending and labor in critical industries like agriculture and construction. That’s according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a leading think tank that works extensively with liberal and conservative experts.

In other words, we subsidize undocumented immigrants, and in return they generate $500 billion in economic activity. That’s a sweet deal. If this nation is okay with handing out subsidies to corporations in exchange for the new wealth they create, then it ought to accept assisting immigrants in this manner too.

Or should we only have empathy for fat cats?

Now back to Blanton:

“We are a nation of laws Mr. Germain. There won’t be any American dream if we continue to allow unchecked illegal immigration and provide them with numerous taxpayer-funded benefits. The United States is $20 trillion in debt! How long can this go on?”
Larry, hardly anyone argues for unchecked illegal immigration. The mainstream Democratic position is that we should legalize the undocumented currently residing in our country and secure the border. It is wise to remember that second part. As for your bit about the debt, I will repeat: undocumented immigrants create more wealth than they take. They help us pay down our debt rather than enlarge it.

“Obamacare is great if you get other taxpayers to pay for it. But those who don’t qualify for the subsidy have seen their rates skyrocket. Premiums increased 56 percent in Minnesota to a staggering 116 percent in Arizona (”

This was near the end of your letter, and because I’m an open-minded guy, let me acknowledge where you are correct. Yes, premiums under Obamacare are too high and the subsidies too meager.

But that does not mean the United States shouldn’t continue toward universal health care. Many of our major allies around the globe have implemented this policy. Countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and France are able to do it for cheaper than the American system while achieving marvelous health outcomes.

Furthermore — and here’s the kicker — no democratic nation that has implemented universal health care has ever undone this reform. Isn’t that astonishing? Don’t you think if it was such a bad idea you would find at least one country that has turned away from it? These pieces of information are enough to draw a simple conclusion: a world where every American has access to affordable, quality health insurance is possible.

“President Trump’s address cut through the Utopian and emotional liberal fog and focused on the hard realities that face this country.”

Hey, I liked the State of The Union also. The president was open-minded enough to endorse moderate ideas like paid family leave, criminal justice reform, and a new infrastructure program. All good things, but as my paragraphs here show, we liberals have an important case to make as well.

Joshua Heath is a Valencia resident and a political science student at UCLA. He has served two terms as a delegate to the California Democratic Party.

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