A plea to Congress on immigration

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The Capitol dome is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012,
The Capitol dome is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012,
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

If corporations really were people, Apple would be a cool guy. A fun, charismatic dude who always looks hip and just wants to help everyone have a good time. That cool guy image took a hit for me when I learned that almost all of Apple’s products are made overseas and Apple’s really good at tax avoidance, paying nothing on $30 billion in global profits because of an Irish subsidiary that, as the New Republic said, has as much physical reality as a leprechaun.

Of course this tax dodging is legal and as long as it is, it reminds me that corporations are able to use the globe to maximize profitability. But poor people, working class people, have a much tougher time using the globe to earn a buck because of our restrictive immigration system. If corporations are people, then shouldn’t people also be able to use the world to help themselves? A recent study in the Journal Health Affairs says “immigrants, particularly non-citizens, heavily subsidize Medicare. Policies that reduce immigration would almost certainly weaken Medicare’s financial health, while an increasing flow of immigrants might bolster its sustainability.” They note that immigrants have contributed far more to Medicare than they have taken out

Despite all the disinformation you may have heard on this issue on other networks and on the radio, immigrants, even undocumented, are makers and not takers. They are contributing taxes and consuming. Even the legendary conservative economist Milton Friedman understood this.

“Legal and illegal immigration has a very positive impact on the U.S. economy,” he once said in response to a survey that was discussed last week in the Wall Street Journal. 

The article says Friedman wholly rejected the idea that immigrants are undesirable because they compete with Americans for jobs and lower wages. The free enterprise system, he argued, “created the high wages in the first place.” He understood that immigrants are valuable to our economy as long as they’re contributing more than taking from our welfare state, which they are.

But can we stem the tide of those coming? Several studies suggest no. A new one from the National Center for Border Security and Immigration, based on interviews with people detained for illegal border, crossing finds 43% of detainees planned to try to cross again. This is because 51% already have a job lined up and 24% want to reunite with family.

The migrants have noticed the sharp uptick in border security, the more stringent laws and more numerous border agents but say the need to come here is greater than any deterrent because of the economic challenge of living in Mexico and other nations, the pull of work in the U.S. and the imperative to reunite with family. We should want an influx of people  who are eager to be here, who are workers, who are family-minded and who are going to help boost our economy for decades to come.

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A plea to Congress on immigration

Updated