Ted McLaughlin : Debunking the Immigrant Myths

Sign on fence of ranch on US/Mexico border near Campo, California. Photo by Fred Greaves / Reuters.

Fear fuels $600 million border bill:
Debunking the myths about immigrants

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / August 14, 2010

On Thursday, the United States Senate passed a $600 million bill to send more agents and equipment to the Mexican border (a bill that had already been passed by the House), and President Obama has signed the bill into law today. With the deficit already large and the other pressing needs in this country, why was this bill passed?

The answer is fear. In an effort to return to power, the Republicans have for months now been stirring up racial and ethnic fears. They have painted the U.S./Mexico border as a violent and very dangerous place and placed the blame for that on undocumented Hispanic immigrants. They have been so successful in painting this picture of a border area full of criminal activity that it looks like even the Democrats are buying into it.

After it was passed Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) said the bill would provide Homeland Security “with the boots on the ground and the resources necessary to combat the (border) crime and violence.” Even President Obama is not immune to this belief. He said, “And this new law will also strengthen our relationship with Mexico in targeting the gangs and criminal organizations that operate on both sides of our shared border.”

If people listened to the politicians in Washington, most of whom know nothing about the border situation with Mexico (except probably some lurid accounts of crime on the Mexican side of the border), they might be convinced the border is a very dangerous place where residents are in constant fear for their lives. Is that true?

Actually, it is not true. It’s just one of several myths being spread and propagated by Republicans in an effort to capitalize on the fear and prejudice of many Americans — myths that have now assumed epic proportions and are blindly accepted by many Americans. There are three of these myths (lies) that seem to be accepted as truth by a large segment of the population (even though they have no basis in truth and are not supported by facts). Let’s examine these myths.

MYTH #1. Illegal immigration has turned America’s southern border into a very violent and crime-ridden area where residents must fear for their safety.

While many Americans have been duped into believing this, the Americans who actually live on the border know this is just not true. This is clearly shown by a new poll conducted by The Reuel Group. The poll was conducted July 14th and 15th and has a margin of error of 2.9%. Poll respondents were all American citizens who were registered to vote and lived in the cities of Douglas (AZ), Nogales (AZ), Yuma (AZ), El Centro (CA), San Diego (CA), Los Cruces (NM), Brownsville (TX), El Paso (TX), Laredo (TX) and McAllen (TX). Here are the poll results:

Do you feel safe as you walk and drive in your neighborhood during your regular daily activities?

Would you allow a child, grandchild or other young relative to play in a neighborhood park?

Do you feel that your neighborhood is as safe as most neighborhoods in the United States?

Do you feel safe living in your border community?

Now those are some pretty doggone good numbers. I daresay that many cities and towns further inside the United States don’t have nearly as good numbers. It is obvious that the huge majority of border residents (American citizens) don’t feel the border is a violent and crime-ridden area.

This is backed up by the sheriff in El Paso, who points out that his city is one of the safest cities in America (having only had two homicides so far this year). Sheriff Richard Wiles says there has always been a small amount of spillover violence at the border, but it is not anywhere near as bad as the politicians would have us believe. He said there are three reasons for this:

  1. There are a large number and wide variety of police forces at the border and they work together very effectively.
  2. Mexican criminals realize it’s easier to get away with crime in Mexico than the United States.
  3. The cartels have a substantial business interest in keeping ports of entry open (and lose money when they are closed).

Both the citizens and elected officials living near the border don’t believe the border is a dangerous area, and most of those elected officials believe the extra money directed at crime and violence on the border is misguided and misspent.

MYTH #2. Undocumented immigrants receive the benefits of living in America without having to pay taxes in this country.

This is also false. To start with, all undocumented immigrants must pay state sales taxes just like anyone else shopping in the United States. They also pay the same property taxes as everyone else — including renters who pay these taxes as a part of their rent. And it doesn’t stop there.

Especially since the law was passed requiring a social security number to be hired in America, most undocumented immigrants (at least 75%) also pay income taxes (since it is taken out of their paycheck). They actually wind up paying more than low-wage American workers, since they are not able to get a tax refund at the end of the year.

They also have social security taxes taken out of their paychecks. Because they are not eligible to receive social security retirement benefits, this means they are subsidizing the Americans who are eligible to receive those benefits — to the tune of over $7 billion a year. The social security program is actually healthier because of the money paid into it by undocumented immigrants.

MYTH #3. Illegal immigrants are destroying American language and culture by bringing their own language and culture to this country.

While many non-thinking American may not believe it, this myth has been busted by many studies. It is a fact that while many first generation immigrants (both legal and illegal) stay predominantly with their native language, the second generation of the family are virtually all English speakers. It is just too hard to get by in this country without speaking English and nearly impossible to grow up in America without learning English. By the third generation, these families have become completely Americanized.

As for these families bringing their cultures, that has always been true in this nation of immigrants. There are millions of people in America who still celebrate some of the aspects of culture that their ancestors brought from other countries many generations ago. Why should recent immigrants be any different? By the third generation these families will be as American as anyone else, whether they retain a part of their unique culture or not.

My own family has retained very little of our original Scots-Irish-Dutch culture, and I think we are probably poorer for it. America is made stronger, not weaker, by it’s mixture of cultures (and it makes for a much more interesting and enlightened place to live).

It is sad that these myths are accepted by many Americans as fact. They are nothing more than lies forwarded by power-hungry politicians playing on the fears and racial insensitivity of the weak-minded. It is time for us to get past them.

We can debate what our immigration policy should be and what should be done with those who are not in this country legally. There are good arguments that can be made in this debate. But these myths are not among those and should be discarded by all decent Americans.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

The Rag Blog

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8 Responses to Ted McLaughlin : Debunking the Immigrant Myths

  1. I think that Ted doesnt know what the hell he is talking about. When was the last time you were on the border Ted?

    1) The proper term is illegal aliens. An illegal immigrant is someone who was in the US legally but has overstayed or otherwise violated the terms of their immigration authorization. Illegal aliens is the proper term Ted doesnt like to use.

    MYTH #1. Illegal immigration has turned America’s southern border into a very violent and crime-ridden area where residents must fear for their safety.
    Hardly a myth. My neighbor owns a large ranch (6000 acres) about 20 miles north of the Texas/Mexico border. My neighbor, my son and I went to hunt deer there a year ago. I commented about the fact that most of the workers where armed. During the hunt, I realized why. We shot a deer about 250 yards away. As we rode our four wheelers up to load the deer, several men and a few women emerged from the bush just as we arrived. Most of the people were carrying large packs, which I later learned were likely loaded with drugs. A couple of the men were armed with rifles and handguns. They pointed the guns at as and shouted for us to leave which we did. Perhaps I can take Ted hunting with us next year and he can learn how unsafe the border area actually is.

    MYTH #2. Undocumented immigrants receive the benefits of living in America without having to pay taxes in this country.

    This is an easy one. I love it when people make such idiotic comments. Ted, illegal aliens cannot have a legal Social Security number. So one of two cases is true. Either they do not have an SSN and therefore are not paying state and federal income taxes. OR. They have obtained a fraudulent SSN in which case they are guilty of Identity Theft. Its not a myth. It is as AlGWhore says, an “inconvenient truth”.

  2. Your hunting trip doesn’t change the truth. I stand by every word I wrote.

  3. Ted, I appreciate your conviction.

    But when illegal aliens cross the border, they arent on some federal land. They are crossing through the farms, ranches and homes of people who live along the border. For them, its not an academic question. Its an invasion of their personal lives and property by heavily armed human and drug smugglers who tolerate no interference. They are being invaded and they live in fear. They carry weapons to protect themselves and their property.

    The sign you chose for your article is quite telling in how true it is. Once these people “just seeking a better life” violate US immigration laws (felony 1), they necessarily then trespass on private property (felony 2), are often forced to transport drugs during their journey (felony 3) and then fraudulently obtain a SSN which they then use to fraudulently obtain a drivers license and other official documents (felony 4).

    Count them, that is four felony violations of state and US laws before the invaders are in country more than a few days. Hardly sounds to me like honest people just looking for a better life.

    Its naive to believe that once a person who has violated US immigration laws, transported drugs, trespassed on private property, and committed fraud to obtain official documents, they will suddenly then choose to put all that behind them and live as an honest law abiding (faux) citizen.

  4. For those of you who want to believe Ted’s propoganda, take a look at this NewsChannel 5 report . I have experienced this first hand. This isnt an isolated incident. This happens all along the border. Its a freaking war zone.

    I guess this kind of story doesnt fit into your political narrative, and its easier to call those who want to ensure immigration happens legally racists. Gotta love progressive hypocrites.


  5. Ted, here is one more for you. I am surprised the research for your article didnt turn up this information.

    Border Patrol Has Retreated from Parts of Border Because It’s ‘Too Dangerous’


  6. Gee, I wonder why the people who live down there aren’t terrified! Could it be that anecdotal “evidence” can be found to make nearly anything look bad?

  7. What would you know about how the people down “there” feel? Did you go there to research your article? Did you watch interviews or read reports written by them?

    Nope, you looked up some statistics. You didnt even compare your numbers to a base group, say Austin, or Denver or some other relatively normal populace. You just printed them out and pronounced them “pretty darn good”. Now that is a well researched article.

    Here are some comments from actual journalists who do live “down there”.

    But in Mexico, the violence [against journalists] is almost never random. Druglords meticulously target journalists for execution, and the method is often very personal. Journalists have had their throats slashed and their bodies dissolved in acid; they’ve been dismembered and tortured by having a message carved into their bodies; they’ve been set on fire and they’ve been buried alive, head first.

    Even the bullet to the head has been anything but straightforward

    The climate of fear extends to reporters north of the border, as well. El Paso Times reporter Diana Washington Valdez routinely visited Juarez City, just on the other side of the Rio Grande. But she says, “I had to stop going. I just won’t go back.” In April, she said, “I received a message, recommending that I should stop writing about drug-trafficking.

    “On this [US] side of the border, there’s a constant flow of intelligence and counter-intelligence,” Valdez said. “We know from our sources that some criminal activities are being coordinated from El Paso.”

    While the journalists who were interviewed for this article insisted that they want to maintain their professional integrity, they say they are necessarily concerned that poking or prodding the wrong person may not be worth the risk.


  8. Are you seriously quoting Fox News to prove your point – the most one-sided and prejudiced “news” source in the country?

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