A Bigger Pie for Everyone

Reposted from Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx9g-4rDKK-/?igshid=185o6g8dfcmc8

Erica Alfaro just got her master’s degree in education from San Diego State University. In her graduation photo she decided to honor her father and mother by taking a photo in the fruit fields where her mother still works. Her parents were not able to go to school, but they inspired in her a respect for education, achievement, and opportunity. Now she will be using her talents to help our next generation build a brighter future for all of us. We at the Pluralism Project congratulate Erica, and pass along our respect to her family’s sacrifice and hard work that allowed her to achieve her goals.

In keeping with her theme of honoring the immigrants who help make our country strong, we wanted to take the opportunity to dispel some myths about immigration and migrant workers. We didn’t need to look far. This report put out in 2016 from the US Chamber of Commerce dispels a dozen commonly held myths about migrant workers. Perhaps the most common of these myths is that migrant workers take jobs from Americans.

This myth relies on a misconception that we are all competing for a fixed number of job opportunities. This myth grossly mischaracterizes how national economies of scale work. Immigrants are more likely than the average American to be entrepreneurs and create jobs. Without these daring risk takers there would be less jobs for all of us. Data from the last census backs this up as cities with the highest level of immigrants have lower unemployment, lower poverty, and higher wages — particularly for minorities.

Another myth addressed is that undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes and are draining money from federal and state programs. While it is true that some employers may higher workers ‘off the books’ to avoid paying certain taxes, these workers may or may not be foreign born, and anyone who works in such a job would still pay taxes through other means such as sales tax or property tax. In addition, the report found that over 50% of undocumented immigrants do pay payroll taxes, but they are not eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

In his presidential campaign and afterwards Donald Trump characterized Hispanic immigrants as criminals. While it is true that some immigrants commit crime, the report found that the 10 states with the highest levels of recent immigrants also had the lowest levels of crime and violent crime in particular. In 2010, the average rate of incarceration for young men overall was 3.3% while for young immigrant men it was only 1.6%.

All the available data from reputable sources suggests that immigrants strengthen this country. They bring skills that are greatly needed due to short supply or overall absence from the native population. They risk their livelihood by coming to this country to start businesses or their lives in our military. They work hard to provide opportunities for women like Erika Alfaro. They are what has made our country great, and they will continue to do so despite the prejudice and bigotry that continues to work against them.

Full Report from Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/09_immigration.pdf

False narratives about zero-sum games like the ones used to turn people against immigrants are some of the most destructive narratives in our society. Not only do the hurt those who the narratives are directed against, they also hurt those who the narratives are supposed to protect.

By Nicholas Detweiler

Chief of Staff of the Pluralism Project

Twitter: NicholasDetwei2

The Pluralism Project is devoted to increasing diversity in politics. We believe that politicians should represent all of society not just the vested interest. We need and appreciate your support. Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date, and please show your support by liking, commenting, and retweeting your favorite tweets!

Nicholas Detweiler