Our mayor is right to stand up for undocumented in Port Arthur
Mayor Derrick Freeman took a bold, brave stance Thursday when he announced he “had the backs” of those in the Hispanic community who might feel nervous due to all the recent talk from the White House of deporting undocumented residents.
We stand behind our mayor.
Critics will point out that undocumented residents, otherwise known as illegal immigrants, are, by default, breaking federal law and therefore they ought to go. But, as with so many federal policies, the right path forward is not nearly so clear. Immigrants—legal and illegal—bring labor to our workforce and they add billions to our state, local and federal tax coffers and so a sudden or a sustained effort to remove these people would hobble our economy in several ways and harm all of us.
How? Well, in Texas we don’t have a state income tax and so we depend on property taxes and sales taxes—both of which everyone must pay, whether we are legal or undocumented.
In 2013, the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy reported that, across the U.S., undocumented residents contributed $10.6 billion in state and local taxes through property and sales taxes in 2010.
In September 2016, the Atlantic magazine reported that there are millions of unclaimed tax forms on file, many of which were filed by employers for undocumented residents who had bought or forged a Social Security card. The magazine reported that illegal residents could be paying “billions” for retirement benefits they will never get.
In fact, experts suggest that states and the federal government could probably bring in even more money if they issued worker permits to undocumented residents. Far from being a politically divisive issue, this was a policy proposal of George W. Bush, but it didn’t get far in Congress. In addition to that, presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama all used executive orders to shield from deportation undocumented family members living in the United States.
Let us be clear: We do not support shielding undocumented residents who commit other sorts of crimes. Anyone suspected of violent or dangerous crime should be held accountable. No exceptions.
In addition, if the Trump Administration makes good on his threat to cut of federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” then perhaps the mayor’s decision should be re-evaluated. However, it is not yet clear that the administration can do this or will do this, so at present this should not be a concern.
Moreover, considering the facts that cities and states have a significant financial interest in keeping undocumented workers here, it is right that they stand up against this federal saber rattling.
But policy suggestions aside, what concerns us now are merely the facts.
The facts are these: Undocumented residents cannot get access to most government services. College students cannot get federal loans. They cannot vote. They cannot hold elected office. What they can do is, they can work. They can pay taxes. They can become or friends, our neighbors or our co-workers.
Singling these folks out and summarily throwing them out of the country is immoral and is bad for business. We are glad Mayor Freeman has their backs.