by Linda Thom:
Pew Hispanic Center study, Unauthorized Migrants:
Numbers and Characteristics, by Jeffrey S. Passel, [PDF]
might have some believing that a quarter of the illegal
aliens pouring across our southern border have some
college. For those who know a little something about the
numbers, that is patently ridiculous.
Indeed, those of us who have been
around the issue for some time read anything published
Pew Foundation with some skepticism. Jeffrey Passel
and his frequent collaborators Rebecca Clark and Michael
Fix have been turning statistical tricks for money for
quite some time.
1994, Jeffrey Passel published a study funded by the
Tomas Rivera Center. The study entitled
Immigrants and Taxes. A Reappraisal of Huddle`s `The
Cost of Immigrants` asserted that immigrants paid
their way; that is, that they paid more in taxes than
they used in public services. Dr. Donald Huddle`s study
stated the opposite.
We all know the truth now—but at
the time, the dueling studies confused most folks and
the studies put the rest to sleep.
How did Jeff Passel find that
immigrants pay their way? His most important sleight
of hand: separating the costs of children from the
immigrant parents. Quite simply, if the
children of immigrants were
born in the United States, he did not include their
education as a public cost of immigration. He said
they were not immigrants.
educating the children is the biggest cost
associated with immigration, this is a big enchilada.
How big? In the last decade, over 40 percent of
children born in California had immigrant mothers.
Nationally, about a fifth of
the births were to immigrants.
I recall reading a glowing report
by Mr. Fix covered in the Los Angeles Times
wherein he asserted illegal aliens used virtually no
unemployment insurance. But it would only be newsworthy
if they did use a lot of unemployment insurance—because
illegal aliens are legally prohibited from getting
I don`t know if illegal aliens are
virtuous or not. But then I do know that they are
breaking the law by being here. And I do know that Mr.
Fix is not virtuous at all.
Later in 1994, Rebecca Clark and
others of the Urban Institute published a study on the
costs of illegal immigration in seven states. The study,
funded by the Federal Government, was released on the
same day that the State of California released a study
on the same subject. They found that illegal aliens
received more in public services than they paid in taxes.
(For a detailed analysis of the two studies, readers can
refer to the archives of The Social Contract Press.
the Urban Institute`s Estimates of Taxes Paid by Illegal
Aliens Reasonable?]) Most readers don`t
laugh out loud at pages full of numbers, but I did.
government budgets for a living. They are not very
amusing but these computer-assisted, generated whatever
made me laugh a good hearty belly laugh.
The Urban Institute gang said that
illegal aliens in California had per capita income of
$6,752 per year and paid $331 per year in state sales
tax. The base sales tax was 7 ¼ percent or 0.0725 as a
That`s the joke. So if you don`t
get it, here`s more. How much does an illegal alien have
to purchase to pay $331 in sales tax? Divide $331 by
.0725 and the answer is…$4,566.
And that does not include services
and food as they are not subject to sales tax in
Amazing, isn`t it? With per capita
incomes of $6,752, illegal aliens spend $4,566 on
clothes, washing machines,
cars and have money left over for
rent, social security
food and school supplies for their children.
What is really amazing is that the
Urban Institute gang had to use computers to figure this
out and that the Federal Government paid good money to
hire The Urban Institute gang to study this.
Moral: Beware of immigration
Linda Thom [email
is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly
worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget
analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.