By Michael Conti
Jose Antonio Vargas dropped by The Kelly File last Friday night to talk about Donald Trump’s incendiary comments on immigrants and immigration throughout his now nine-month presidential campaign.
In the conversation, host Megyn Kelly and her guest, attorney David Wohl, both suggested Trump’s stance on immigration has moved beyond race, offering as evidence the fact that he has not used words like “rapist” to describe undocumented immigrants from Mexico in 2016. Further proof offered that Mr. Trump’s immigration policy is not race motivated, is that he’s now focusing on supposed economic and public safety issues posed by illegal immigration.
While Trump may have learned better than to use the word “rapists” to describe immigrants, the dog whistle has already been blown. In today’s age of YouTube replays, that declaration remains as fresh as it was when it originally hit the 24-hour news cycle. In its place are a set of hastily arranged assertions about immigrants, the economy and crime which can easily be disproved with some elementary vetting.
Immigrants aren’t taking jobs, they are making them. Immigrants are twice as likely to start a small business than the native born population. The best evidence suggests that at least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households currently file income tax returns using legal Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), and many who do not file income tax returns with ITINs still have taxes deducted from their paychecks. Additionally, undocumented immigrants spend money and pay state and local taxes through their everyday expenses. (source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy)
Creating a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented population would add a cumulative $1.2 trillion to U.S. GDP over a decade, increase the earnings of all Americans by $625 billion, and create an average of 145,000 new jobs each year. (source: Center for American progress)
A wall won’t secure our borders. To suggest that we would be safe because of a massive wall on the southern border hides the fact that the 9/11 hijackers entered the country lawfully, and not through the southern border. (source: FactCheck.org) And when it comes to immigration, the fastest growing population of undocumented immigrants are from Asian countries. (source: Migration Policy Institute) In fact, there are actually more people leaving the U.S. from the Mexican border than coming in. (source: Pew Research Center) Why should U.S. taxpayers be forced to spend billions to “fix” a problem that doesn’t exist?
We can’t allow unfounded fears to dominate our political process and overrule facts. And the facts show that immigrants make our society stronger. So as you listen to candidates and pundits debate half-truths (or zero-truths) about the role immigrants play in our country, make sure you’re informed — and if you have a question, ask us on social media and we’ll happily help you find an answer.