The Immigration Issue: Some Facts

Note: Houston Metroblog is a team, and as such, we each have our own opinions and thoughts. So, this article is what I think and what I feel, not necessarily what the others do.

News sources, blogs and forums all have some pretty interesting things to say about the immigration Issue. The consensus seems to be that an “underclass of outlaws” (Mexican immigrants) are hurting America through job stealing, crime, welfare free-loading and non-assimilation. And that when students rises up against these claims, they get reported on, pundited, made fun of, arrested and cited. Wow. We really know how to roll out the welcome mat don’t we.

The Houston Chronicle quoted a man saying:

“The whole thing just makes my blood boil,” said Bruce R. Wing, a 52-year-old Missouri City resident. “I want them all out of here.”

Unfortunately, this seems to be the sentiment of a lot of people lately. This that statement is not about jobs, that’s not about heath care, its not about assimilation. That sentiment is blatantly racist. Through proposed Immigration Reform, we are exposing a (not so) hidden prejudice against an entire race of people. A race that makes up more than one third of Houston.

It seems that some of the points people are making stem from a lack of understanding. So, maybe I can help explain some things…

Not all Hispanics are immigrants
Shocking, I know. But we aren’t. We have a saying: “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Like many many families here, mine has been in Texas and Louisiana for generations, long before this became America. Most of us were born and raised in this country. We contribute to the society, defend the homeland and live the American dream. As much citizens as anyone else.

Illegal Immigrants do not free load on welfare or healthcare
May I stress this point? Illegal immigrants cannot get welfare. They just can’t. You have to be a legal documented resident and go through background checks, fingerprinting, iris scanning and reference giving. There is no way that any significant portion of illegal immigrants can get through all of that. With healthcare, most immigrants are too scared to go to public hospitals out of fear of being reported. In fact, that fear makes sure they stay out of almost all government institutions or do things like call the cops for public disturbances or ambulances for emergencies.

Illegal Immigrants are a drain on the economy because they don’t pay taxes.
Really? What about sales tax? Or gas tax? Or tobacco tax or all the other taxes from buying things. They pay those taxes. And lots of it. Look at the advertising lately, have you noticed a lot more commercials, billboards and ads are geared towards the Hispanic market? That’s because the Hispanic buying power, immigrant or not, is massive. So, with all that buying, all that spending money, they’re building local economy on a huge scale.

What about property taxes, school taxes, etc? Well, they’re poor. If they were legal, they still wouldn’t own property, so they still wouldn’t pay property taxes. Does anyone complain about other low ownership areas of town? Do we need to deport Southwest Houston or Acres Homes or Pasadena because many people don’t own their own homes? No, we don’t.

America is all Immigrants
Save the Native Americans, everyone here are immigrants. Americans ancestors were immigrants. and they were accepted into this country or they founded this country or whatever, but at one point, they came here on boat or plane, with their own culture and identity, seeking a better life, more freedom and to work. Today’s Mexican immigrants come to America for exactly the same reasons everyone’s ancestors did.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Inscription on the Statue of Liberty

Culture vs. Citizenship
Yes, the kids are waving Mexican flags. Yes, they are in America. But understand that the Mexican flag represents something more / other than the country that flies it. It represents a culture, the culture of those kids. So when they brandish the flag, they’re showing support for who they are. This is just the same as going to Boston and seeing Irish flags or going to Chicago and seeing Italian flags. Its about heritage and love for your people.

America was never intended to replace heritage. It was never designed to strip culture and identity, it was supposed to be a place where we can all live in one place together but still be who we are. It is the poor soul who has lost his own culture. So, wave Mexican flags, wave Japanese flags, wave American flags, but most of all be an American yourself by loving other cultures.

To sum this up:
Remember that when people talk about Immigrants, they are talking about people. Generally good people with lives, dreams, children, wants and desires. They aren’t statistics, they aren’t an “underclass of outlaws,” they aren’t refuse. They’re people just like us who want to live and work. Immigrants want to pursue happiness and life and… hmm… that sounds familiar…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

19 Comments so far

  1. katya (unregistered) on March 31st, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    Excellent points Adrian.

    The hispanic community certainly is a HUGE part of our city culturally, socially and economically – not to mention the rest of the country. I work pretty closely with the advertising industry and it is all freaking about Lopez Negrete and other Hispanic PR/ad firms. HUGE!!!

    One thing that I have seen some frusturation over since moving to Houston – super low wages offered for the same jobs that pay pretty decently in other parts of the country, because of the large available workforce that is willing to work their hearts out for really anything.

    I’m not at all well-versed in immigration policy and certainly have more pro-immigrant sentiments than anything, but I know that some people who came to Texas expecting to make a decent living doing physical labor-type jobs had to change professions pretty quickly when seeing that they a) really had no chance of getting work or b) would have to have settled with some crazy-low hourly wages.

    This is tough – but probably something that should have been expected when looking at Texas’ geographical location. Just thinking….

  2. RJR (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 12:32 am

    Interesting….so if you are against ILLEGAL immigration, you are a racist? So as a Hispanic who wants the law enforced with regard to illegal immigrants, I am prejudiced against myself? Wow, I never realized how much I hated myself…thanks for enlightening me.

  3. Jen (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 2:30 am

    Excellent, excellent post, Adrian.

    I’ll add that while not all Hispanics are immigrants, not all immigrants (with or without documentation) are Hispanic. Houston immigrants represent communities from different countries, cultures, religions, skin color, socioeconomic status…yet, media/news stories/blog posts about the immigrant “crisis” are associated with images of poor, brown-skinned people from Mexico and Central America…so, when arguments about the immigrant “crisis” are filled with phrases like “those people” or “the illegals,” it does become about race. And while some might argue that the proposed immigration reform isn’t fueled by racism, the local/national reaction certainly seems to be.

    Yet, this attitude towards foreignness and who does/does not belong here isn’t new….nor is this the first immigration law targeting a specific ethnic/racial group. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act barred Chinese from becoming US citizens for 10 years because they were blamed for taking away jobs, ruining the economy, etc.

  4. Steelsun (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 5:17 am

    One very important point you mis-represent: Most people are complaining about ILLEGAL aliens. Don’t change the facts by using semantics and calling them “immigrants”, we are talking about people that have come to the country illegally (that is without following the due process), not people that have immigrated legally.

    There is a differance.

  5. John (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 5:57 am

    Good points. Here’s another one that really gets on my nerves – the number of times in the last week I’ve heard the complaint, “They come here and they don’t learn English!” Which is simply not true – I wrote about it here:

  6. Deon (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 9:26 am

    You’re a fucking idiot! It’s about respect you stupid prick! WE’re all in this together. BE a mature adult and quit trying to take advantage of a good situation. Universities and municipalities favor “minorities” and the disabled. If you truly cared about America (and not yourself) you would be more concerned about ending this racial injustice instead of trying to justify it!

  7. Jen (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    Steelsun – I don’t think everyone realizes – or cares about – that distinction. The line between attacking people who come here without documentation, and the people who simply look like them, is becoming very fuzzy. Students who protest and wave Mexican flags are targets of the same anti-immigrant sentiments, whether or not they’re US citizens. They’re lumped into that same “underclass of outlaws”.

  8. NotDeskmerc (unregistered) on April 1st, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

    I appreciate your sentiment. Really, I do.

    And I am one of those Native Americans, so I can also appreciate the general idea that “we” were here first (pertaining to your “the border crossed us” comment). However, “we” lost. And it wasn’t such a bad loss in the outcome, since I’m fairly sure that the Cherokee wouldn’t have been on the cutting edge of science, medicine and technology had they been left to their own devices. I would not want to live any other lifestyle than the one I enjoy in this country. As a Native American whose peoples were genocidally slaughtered and then rounded up into camps laughingly called reservations, I still say that this is a great country and Americans should NOT feel any shame about wanting to defend that.

    That lifestyle is predicated on freedoms, relative security and economic power. Surely you understand that by allowing the border to be an unchecked floodgate, that is a huge problem for our security. We already gave up so many freedoms in the name of security — if we invite another attack with open borders that allow too many people to cross unchecked and another attack happens, that’s going to hurt those freedoms again.

    You know, it’s true that there is a certain amount of racism that is developing among many people. Not that it justifies it or that I condone it, but it is a reactionary racism, which is not the same thing as the racism that was held toward the black Americans, who did nothing to invite anyone’s derision. They were just black. But many of these illegal Mexicans are certainly helping people to make these kinds of judgments by flaunting our laws and then pressuring our country to reward them for that. If you are robbed by a hundred purple people, you will eventually start to be wary of all purple people since you equate purple people with robbery. Even if you see other purple people on the street not doing anything wrong, human nature is such that a person may wonder whether that purple person is someone who robs. This problem needs to be solved before this kind of associative racism gets worse.

    I don’t know where you got your numbers for the hospitals (I suspect you just made it up anecdotally), but Medicaid records show a different story, particularly in regards to births of the children of illegal immigrants. Americans of ALL colors, including legitimate Hispanic citizens, are not getting the care THEY have a right to, because there isn’t enough to go around for both legitimate Americans and millions of illegal immigrants.

    So far as taxes go… you know, I’d love to be able to just not pay my income tax. That’d be great. Then I’d have nearly 40% more money to spend on other things, which are of course taxed. I work hard. Doesn’t that justify it? Well, the IRS wouldn’t agree. Why should illegal Mexicans get that advantage? Because they work hard? Or because they are Mexican?

    I also think it’s important that you not characterize all arguments against illegal immigration to be racist in nature. The guy you quoted wasn’t necessarily being racist. He wants illegal immigrants gone, I assume that’s the “them” he was referring to. You’re assuming a racist motivation, which implies hatred for a race. You think that anyone who believes that illegal immigration ought to be illegal hates Mexicans? That’s a pretty big assumption, considering how peaceful Houston is on the whole when it comes to interrace relations with Mexican-Americans. It’s also a convenient way to demonize a point you don’t agree with, since the racist accusation tends to shut people up, lest the accusation evolve into “hate speech” next.

  9. John (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 8:27 am


    Couple of nits.

    1. The children of illegal immigrants who are born in the US are US citizens.

    2. The idea that being an illegal is some kind of big tax break is nuts. “Hey, I get paid less than minimum wage, but I don’t have to pay taxes! Yippee!” Please….

    3. You don’t get the healthcare you need because we have an incredibly wasteful healthcare bureaucracy called “the insurance industry,” which has powerful incentives to make it hard for people to get care. If you compare the dollars spent on overhead in different health systems around the world, we are the most wasteful. Which is probably why we spend more per capita than other industrialized nations for generally mediocre outcomes. Immigrants are a drop in the bucket there. Want better healthcare, press Congress for healthcare reform that’s not designed to please lobbyists for the industry skimming profits off of our health care spending.

  10. PDiddie (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 9:12 am

    Interesting….so if you are against ILLEGAL immigration, you are a racist?

    Well, you’re probably not a good Christian:

    Leviticus 19:34 (NIV) “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

  11. L. Allen (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 9:42 am

    It is not about immigration it is about illegals….Hello It is not prejudice it is pride.

    I am appalled that we are having to fight to fly our flag, practice our Christian religion, and express our moral beliefs without being persecuted or called prejudice.
    Hello!!!! Has everyone forgotten we live In AMERICA. One nation under God.

    It seems everyone who comes to our country from another country has more rights than we do. We mustn’t offend anyone. Well, let me tell you as an American I am offended. My family like all American families are immigrants except for the native indian. But we came here the legal way.

    When I travel to other countries, I am expected to follow their laws, have proper documentation, learn their language or get someone to communicate for me and adapt to their culture. Signs and communications are not written in English. The countrymen who live their do not have to push one on the phone to hear their language.
    I am not allowed to protest their rules/laws. And guess what !! if I have a baby there, it is not a citizen of that country.
    If I get sick well, I have to pay for my health care or fly home fast.
    America is the land of the free. Freedom to worship, pray out loud, read what we want including the Bible, express our opinions, uphold the constitution and fly our flag with a great since of pride and patriotism while remembering and celebrating those who gave their lives to protect it. We have the freedom to put those in office who uphold these freedoms for Americans, oh yeah and pay taxes. We are US citizens…. This is our country.

    It is not the land of the freeloader and anyone who wants to change it to become another country. If other countries, their laws, their culture, their beliefs are so wonderful then why does so many come to America?

    I am so tired! It is time we stand as American Citizens, be heard. and demand those who come to this country, come the legal way, abide by our laws, and adapt to our culture/language. If they want to see their country’s flag flying and speak their language then they need to go home.

    I have to wonder how many of the students who walked out of the public schools (which are supported by US citizen’s taxes) disrupting classes and even putting others at risk of danger are here legally?

    I have to wonder how illegals can stand on our corners, urinating in public, shouting obscenities and disrupting communities, committing crimes, drive around even drunk sometimes with no insurance are not picked up and deported.

    I am so tired of our rights being infringed upon. Illegals do not do the jobs Americans want do. They take away jobs that high school and college kids need to help pay their way through school, because guess what!! we don’t get that free either. They take away many construction jobs which are needed by blue collar workers.
    They are taxing our public health care system, our jails, our emergency providers and hospitals, our law enforcement, bringing in disease, our educational system and now our children in our schools are in danger from protesters who are subject to become violent. And lets not forget the terrorist who can walk right across the river with them.

    Oh yes and by the way, I am tired of supporting those who CHOOSE not work, US citizens or not.

    What is wrong with us… For peaks sake quit sitting around the kitchen table griping and stop this before it is to late and we are no longer in America.

    L. Allen

  12. THE BUCK STOPS HERE (unregistered) on April 2nd, 2006 @ 3:00 pm

    To: Gonzales

    What part of “ILLEGAL” don’t people understand?
    Furthermore, I reject the empty argument which suggests that ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT RIGHTS are synonymous with CIVIL RIGHTS. People here illegally are not citizens. I have yet to hear anyone suggest that Illegal Aliens are not endowed by Our Creator with the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. I just ask that they respect the laws of this country, come here legally, have a health screening. Wait in line just like millions of immigrants before have done. And especially stop sneaking across our borders, cutting our fences, ruining our privacy, running drugs, trashing our citizens lands and the once beautiful national parks along the border. So what part of the Declaration of Independence is even relative to your opinion?

  13. Bob T. (unregistered) on April 3rd, 2006 @ 10:32 am

    There are many good arguments pro and con on immigration, as well as some simply emotional ones. What rarely gets mentioned is how large the population of the US should become. It has doubled in the past 50-60 years.

    People complain about development, sprawl, pollution, consumption of natural resources and congestion. It is unreasonable to be against all these and to be in favor of unrestricted immigration.

  14. liz (unregistered) on April 3rd, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

    According to Stephen C. Goss, Social Security’s chief actuary, about three-quarters of illegal immigrants pay payroll taxes. That amounts to a subsidy of $7 billion a year in Social security taxes and another $1.5 billion for Medicare from workers who receive no retirement benefits.

    There are valid reasons to dislike illegal immigration, but the notion that they are a drain on our resources because they receive benefits and don’t pay taxes isn’t one of them.

  15. xyz (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 11:05 am

    Illegals are just wrong period. If we allow illegals to come in freely, then why should those immigrants have to wait 10 or so years to come in legally? As an immigrant myself, everything good people say about illegals are nonsense. Yeah they take those unwanted jobs blah blah.. Horsecrap. Do everyone believe that if there is not a single illegal here that our roads will not be fixed, that we won’t have a place to eat, or our grass won’t be cut? It is as trivial as we are running out of oil. Alternatives will come about!

    As for those kids who wave Mexican flags and protesting: WHAT DO THEY KNOW ABOUT? They are doing it to get out of school. It infuriates me to see them wave the Mexican flag. If yall love your country so much, go back. No one is stopping you. And for those critics who say yes to waving your own flags as a reminder of your culture, again that is bs. So if I was a Nazi, I can way my Nazi flag.. a reminder of my own culture. Come on.. we are one nation, United States. The only flag is the United States flag.

  16. Pookee (unregistered) on April 11th, 2006 @ 8:53 am

    1. Not all Hispanics are immigrants
    True. I’ve never heard anyone make this mistake.

    2. Illegal Immigrants do not free load on welfare or healthcare
    False. When I took my wife to the ER last year I found a waiting room packed with illegal immigrants seeking treatment for family doctor ailments (colds, flu, etc). In Houston, it is against the law to question the citizenship of anyone visiting an ER. Hospitals do not have a choice and have all but given up on collecting funds from those people. As a result, the Harris County Hospital District is teetering on bankruptcy.

    3. Illegal Immigrants are a drain on the economy because they don’t pay taxes.
    True, and then some. Yes illegal immigrants pay sales tax and gas tax but they do not pay federal income tax and the employers who are paying them under the table are not paying employment taxes. Also, most of the money made by illegal immigrants is wired to Mexico (tax free) and is therefore drained from our economy. Your argument about deporting Pasadena makes no sense since part of apartment rent is property tax. Everyone who lives somewhere, poor or not, pays property tax unless you are homeless or live in government housing.

    4. America is all Immigrants
    True. Legal immigrants for the most part. Waves of immigrants from Ireland and Poland and Germany didn’t swim the Atlantic, shake off, and demand rights. Most of them came through Ellis Island which was the law of the time. There were some who snuck in then also but our country was not built on these few.

    5. Culture vs. Citizenship
    Flags represent countries and governments. If you marched on Mexico City waving American flags you would be arrested. If we are to show our heritage by waving foreign flags why do we not see mobs waving Chinese, Cuban, Austrian, British, and French flags? During the immigrant wave following the Irish Potato Famine why did they not storm Washington waving Irish flags? The protestors we see today do not wish to become part of America they wish to make it Mexico (Reconquista).

  17. Mark Frimmel (unregistered) on April 11th, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

    I have a small tile installation business in Fort Worth, I’m a native Texan, and I cannot make a decent wage because the illegals directly effect me and my occupation. The per square foot price of tile installation has gone from 4.00 a foot to 1.00 a foot just to stay competitive. Why don’t we stop them? Complacency in our society has effected us until it is too late to do anything. The “Reconquista” attitude that comes with the influx of illegals that exists now could be the end of America as we know it. Are we just a bunch of dumb asses that bend over every time somebody wants to screw us? Wake up, America, this is only the beginning. Close our borders now!

    Mark Frimmel

  18. Phillip (unregistered) on April 12th, 2006 @ 11:02 pm

    Very nice article. I have to admit right now that i was on the opposite side of the argument and was really against illegal immigrants, seeing them as freeloading off of the country. But now that I’ve read your article and the excellent points you have made, I actually know both sides of the argument and know that things would be the same whether they are legal or not. Thanks for giving me a broader perspective.

  19. mel (unregistered) on April 12th, 2006 @ 11:05 pm

    Hey Adrian,

    You might have to revise one of your points.. Attend to the second paragraph.. The following comes from the Center for Immigration Studies and refers to a table that can be found at:

    Welfare Among Illegals by State. Table 22 shows
    the share of households headed by illegal aliens using various welfare programs. It shows that a large share of illegal-alien households use the food assistance programs (Food Stamps and WIC) and Medicaid. But use of cash assistance (TANF, State General Assistance, and SSI) is in most cases is very low. It should also be added that the share of households headed by illegals in public or rent-subsidized housing is virtually zero.

    It must be remembered that, in general, illegals cannot use the welfare system themselves. But their U.S.-born children can be enrolled in Medicaid and receive food assistance. Table 22 reflects the fact that a very large share of illegals have low incomes and, as a result, their children can enroll in means-tested programs. This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which because it means that efforts to bar illegals from using welfare programs will be ineffective. Their U.S.-citizen children will continue to enjoy the same welfare eligibility as any other American citizen. Or put a different way, as long as illegals are allowed to stay in the country, their children will continue to access the welfare system at very high rates, at least for some programs.

    It should also be noted that this situation is not caused by an unwillingness to work on the part of illegals. In fact, we have estimated that a larger share of illegal alien headed households have at least one worker than do native headed households.38 Rather, with 60 percent or more of adult illegals lacking even a high school degree, their average incomes in the modern economy will be very low. Moreover, the American welfare system is geared toward helping low-income workers, especially those with children. Since a very large share of illegals work, have low income, and have children, most of whom were born here, it should be no surprise that many illegal households use the welfare system. Use of means-tested programs by illegal workers is important because it indicates that employers’ desire to have access to large numbers of unskilled immigrant workers may come at a very significant costs to taxpayers. This does not mean that the overall effort to help low-income workers is misplaced. But it does raise the question of why we have an immigration policy that adds so many unskilled workers to the country.

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