As of Tuesday, December 6, 2016
I would like to address three myths about immigration that I have heard repeated in the past few months.
Myth #1: DACA makes you a target.
The headline in last week’s essay by Abel Cruz Flores suggested this. It’s more likely that those with DACA status are more protected than those without it. Here’s why:
People with DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, have passed a criminal background check by the U.S. federal government.
USCIS does not share DACA information with ICE. The US Citizenship and immigration Services does not give information about DACA applicants, or about their families, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unless the applicant is a criminal (simply being undocumented is, in fact, not a crime; it is considered a civil offense by the federal government). From the USCIS website, regarding DACA applications:
“Information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to ICE. Individuals whose cases are deferred pursuant to DACA will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies for national security purposes, or for the investigation of a criminal offense. The above information sharing policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to the requestor” (uscis.gov).
This says that USCIS will not share DACA information, unless a crime is involved, or the applicant is a threat to national security; it also says information about the applicant’s family will not be shared with ICE.
President-Elect Donald Trump has softened his deportation target from 12 million to somewhere between 800,000 and 3 million, depending on the day and audience. He has stated that the focus will be on deporting those who are already in criminal proceedings. Most recently, on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Trump said he plans to “immediately deport 2 million to 3 million criminal undocumented immigrants.” Further, Republican, yes Republican, lawmakers have already crafted a law that would keep the DACA population protected (“Graham Preparing Dreamers Bill,” politico.com).
Though there are no guarantees, it seems probable that DACA recipients are the least likely of all undocumented populations to be deported. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center confirms that “administrative programs like this have never been used for wholesale deportation in the past. It would be extremely costly for the government to try to deport all 700K-plus DACA recipients” (ilrc.org).
Myth #2: Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes.
This is false. Since 1996, the IRS has been issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs, to anyone who wants to work in the U.S. The IRS does not care about a person’s status — it just wants to collect taxes. The IRS is prohibited by law from sharing a taxpayer’s personal information. Undocumented workers pay federal and state taxes through their job’s payroll (for example, in Oregon in 2010, $54,420,777 income tax was paid by families headed by unauthorized immigrants). Undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes in 45 states. They also pay property taxes ($19,806,091 in Oregon in 2010).
They also pay into Social Security, but they will never receive Social Security payments. According to the Social Security Agency, the money paid into Social Security by illegal immigrants has helped the program remain solvent. From 1996-2003, the federal government received $41-plus billion from people whose social security numbers did not match government records (businessinsider.com, The Pew Hispanic Research Center). During that same time, President-Elect Trump has bragged that he paid zero in taxes, though this remains shrouded in mystery as he has yet to release any tax records.
Myth #3: Being a sanctuary city will increase my taxes and generally ruin my life.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Immigration enforcement is the self-declared job of the federal government. Being a sanctuary city means that our city will not use city funds to do a federal job. Sanctuary status does not protect criminals. A sanctuary county does not use county funds to do a federal job. A sanctuary campus is one that will not use school district funds to do a federal job. In all cases, we save money. And frankly, the majority of the people in this city, county, and school district do not want to use their tax money to support federal immigration enforcement.
Our school, county, and city already practice sanctuary policy, so most of us will go about our day in relative ignorance of the change. But for many of our co-workers, employees, neighbors, students, and friends, simply hearing the word sanctuary makes a huge, much-needed, greatly appreciated statement.