With Tax Day upon us, let us recognize our undocumented immigrant neighbors, Dreamers, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who contribute to our nation’s economy, while receiving little or none of the benefits citizens are entitled to.
Using the latest available IRS data, from 2015, a report from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that 4.4 million workers without Social Security numbers pay $23.6 billion in taxes every year. A large portion of these taxpayers include undocumented immigrants who still pay their taxes to integrate into a nation they hope will one day officially recognize them. A consistent paper trail and a demonstrated record of paying taxes can help an immigrant’s case in their appeals for adjustments in legal status.
According to the ITEP, undocumented workers support state and local governments with $11.7 billion in paid taxes. Long Island stands to lose an estimated $387 million in annual gross domestic product if the thousands with DACA recipients were suddenly removed from the workforce. And, that does not even take into account the thousands upon thousands more in Nassau and Suffolk who are not eligible for DACA.
As Juan Escalante, communications manager for America’s Voice, wrote in his 2017 essay on undocumented immigrants paying taxes, they “…risk their lives and deportation in order to work and generate the income necessary to pay taxes.” He added, “Yet Trump’s un-American and racist deportation policies want to build a wall, unleash a deportation force, and incarcerate undocumented immigrants using the very tax dollars they are contributing.”
Setting our undocumented immigrants, Dreamers, and DACA recipients on a pathway to citizenship is the only solution that will enhance their already foundational economic contributions. What better example of merit–of grounds to be in this country–than Americans who not only work hard, but also do not expect any benefits in return for years on end? They have paid their dues, and much more.
Unfortunately, our current system drives immigrants into the shadows, and does not allow them to contribute to their fullest. Envision for a moment the potential economic fuel to be added to our nation’s livelihood if millions of hard-working immigrants throughout the country could pay their taxes and work legally.
That’s the thing about Dreamers: they dream not only for themselves, but also for what they would like their new home to be. The U.S. can be great again, but it won’t be because of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. If money talks, let the billions of dollars immigrants contribute be the answer to how America can be great again.