As the battle over immigration intensifies, some of the rhetoric against any kind of reform is heating up. Last week at a rally against immigration reform, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert said, “If you’re coming into the country, don’t come in to be a taker.”
The implication behind Congressman Gohmert’s analysis is that immigrants are principally parasites and, if we’re not careful, they’ll fall into the temptation of complete and utter dependency, offering nothing but a drain on this nation’s resources.
I was reminded of a particularly reprehensible analysis, sadly offered on the British television program Top Gear: the presenters were talking about cars that might be produced in Mexico and said, “Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.”
Thankfully, the comedic actor Steve Coogan, also British, immediately wrote an editorial in The Guardian lacerating these comments: “There is not a shred of truth in Top Gear’s ‘comic’ stereotype. I can tell you from my own experience, living in the U.S., Mexicans work themselves to the bone doing all the dirty thankless jobs that the white middle-class natives won’t do.”
And that is not just anecdotal evidence. Look at the facts: a study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that even undocumented immigrants paid over $11 billion in state and local taxes in 2010 alone—meaning that they paid in to support benefits that they themselves can never receive.
Just last week, the Congressional Budget Office said that the immigration reform bill, currently being considered by the Senate, would shrink the deficit by almost $200 billion over the next 10 years, and a further $700 billion the decade after that.
And, finally, take a look at this graph which reveals how much less immigrants receive in Social Security benefits than native-born Americans:
Many of us may have been tempted to believe that Congressman Michael Burgess’ comment about fetal masturbation was the high point of last week’s installment of Republican idiocy, but it wasn’t, because when Congressman Louie Gohmert rallied against immigration reform, he was full of more quackery and unscientific nonsense than even Mr. Burgess.