"I've never met an 'illegal' human being."
~ U.S. Senator Cory Booker
My beloved mother, who’s become a tad more right-leaning in her older age, just forwarded one of those chain e-mails designed to fire people up and get us to grab our pitchforks and torches and take to the streets. This one (which I won’t repost here because I don’t want to help disseminate drivel), sent to her by my very conservative Uncle Don, attacked illegal immigrants and contained the kind of fiery bombast you find in the public comments section of most online newspapers. I knew by the subject line, “Are We Stupid or What?,” that this was going to raise my blood pressure and lower my level of affection for my mother’s brother-in-law. Mom introduced the message by typing, “I don’t know if these claims are true but I trust you’ll take the time to verify.”
Here’s how I replied:
Actually, Mom, I'm not going to take the time to verify this crap. It's offensive, divisive and disgusting. Here's my response:
* Forbes, no liberal bastion, asked in a March 2014 article why there's no conservative outrage about corporate welfare. Boeing receives $13 billion in government handouts, for example, and everyone yawns. Whether in the form of tax breaks, incentives, refunds or direct appropriation, corporate welfare is far more expensive than benefits allocated to those dastardly "illegals."
* The government spends roughly 50% more on corporate welfare than it does on public assistance programs. (Click here for the source article.)
* Big Oil's profits in the first six months of 2013: $47.4 billion. (That's with a "b.") So why are we still giving Chevron, Shell, Exxon, BP, Conoco et al $10 billion in subsidies each year? And where's the conservative outrage about that?
* 32 companies dodged $72 billion in taxes in 2012 - enough to fund the entire federal education budget. But we've got to get tough on illegals, don't we?
* Illegals are by no means America's biggest welfare queens. Know who is? Walmart. Each Walmart drains more than $900,000 from taxpayers in the form of food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, housing and other social programs for their poverty-wage employees. (The Walton family, by the way, is worth $144 billion [$144 thousand millions]. This year the government is giving them back $6 billion [$6 thousand million] in tax breaks. This is enough to pay the tuition of 10 million students.)
* Finally, according to CNN Money (again, no liberal mouthpiece), myths about illegal immigrants include:
1. They don't pay taxes. Yes, they do. In fact, they paid $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010 alone.
2. They don't pay into social security. Yes, they do. They pay more in payroll taxes than they'll ever use in public benefits. Unauthorized immigrants aren't eligible to receive social security yet they paid $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.
3. They drain the system. No, they don't. They don't qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law, even legal immigrants can't receive these benefits until they have been in the U.S. for more than five years.
4. They take American jobs. No, they don't. This has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data.
5. It's just a matter of following the law. No, it isn't. It's extremely difficult to enter the U.S. legally and the line of applicants from all over is long. It can take years and even decades. In some countries, such as the Philippines and Mexico, people have been waiting over 20 years for approval of a family-sponsored visa. It's often cost-prohibitive too.
In short, illegal immigration is not as big a problem as the silly message you forwarded claims although I can see why corporate America and its minions in the media, Congress, etc. want us all to think so. Stoking the fires of fear, ignorance and prejudice is so much easier than making a case with facts and numbers.
I ask that you forward this response to Uncle Don and all the other recipients of this pablum. And I also ask that you refrain from forwarding similar e-mails to me because I find them aggravating and insipid and I don't want to have an apoplectic seizure and die.
I probably shouldn't hold my breath waiting for a Christmas card from Uncle Don this year.
UPDATE: A reader requested source information that I couldn't readily provide so I removed the statistic and rewrote the post.