Recently, Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board, made some outrageous statements about the United States’ illegal immigration problem. This is a continuation of efforts by the open-borders lobby to obfuscate the immigration debate with wonky math.
Mr. Chapman condescendingly states, “The president and his attorney general ignore the real dangers posed by most foreigners here illegally: They will fill jobs that Americans don’t want, learn English, pay taxes and stay out of trouble.”
First of all, there are no “jobs that Americans don’t want.” The industries that most legal and illegal aliens enter when they come into the United States, such as farming and construction, consist of more native-born citizens than immigrants. There is no industry that has more immigrants than native-born Americans, according to Pew.
Mr. Chapman followed that by saying illegal aliens “learn English.” While some illegal aliens may learn English, it tends to take them a long time, and it costs American taxpayers billions of dollars. According to a National Education Association report, it takes an average of five to seven years for an immigrant child to reach English proficiency, with up to half requiring six or more years.
As for taxes, many illegal aliens avoid them by working in the underground economy, and most consume services that cost significantly more than they pay in taxes. While illegal aliens do contribute about $19 billion in taxes every year, they and their dependents consume almost $135 billion each year. That means the cost of illegal immigration to American taxpayers is about $116 billion. Just stating that illegal aliens “pay taxes” only tells a small part of the story and paints a false picture that illegal aliens are a net contribution to the U.S. economy.
Mr. Chapman went on to mention that there are more illegal aliens in the country now than in 1990, and he then tried to correlate that to decreasing crime rates. He cited a Cato Institute study that claims illegal aliens commit crimes at a lower rate than American citizens. First of all, it should be noted that any crimes committed by illegal aliens should be considered preventable. From 2011 until 2018, 245,000 aliens were charged with crimes in Texas alone, and two-thirds of those aliens were in the country illegally. Those illegal aliens committed 600 murders and 38,000 drug crimes. Furthermore, the Cato study doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Data from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAPP) suggests that, at least in most states, illegal aliens are far more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons and local jails than lawfully present aliens.
The statements made by Mr. Chapman in his Chicago Tribune article were a mixture of falsehoods and stretched-truths. If Mr. Chapman and others are going to write about illegal immigration, they should at least make sure their facts are right.