AILA's letter to the editor asserted that immigrants are paying their own way in the US because they paid $130 billion in individual income taxes and $30 billion in business taxes. Of course, they don't cite the source of these figures, nor do they put them in context, if in fact, they are correct.
Let's assume that the figures are correct. If one will check out the IRS website, www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/02db07co.xls, one will find that the total individual taxes paid in 2002 amounted to $1,037 billion, of which $130 billion is approximately 13 percent. Of corporate taxes paid, $30 billion is approximately 14 percent. According to the US Census Bureau (February 2002), immigrants and their offspring now number 56 million, or 20 percent of the US population. In other words, immigrants are contributing less in taxes in relation to their share of the US population. Also, based on data presented in the Statistical Abstract of the US 2001 (table 44), the rate of poverty among the native-born is about 11 percent, while among the foreign-born it is almost 17 percent.
It's true that many immigrants do pull their own weight in the US, and more. But it is also true that many do not. In the aggregate, they are not. The US needs to examine what it expects from its immigrant population, and what it is willing to pay, not only in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of social cohesion.
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