Tag Archives: E-verify

Undocumented workers pay billions in Social Security taxes, 12.25.11-1.2.12

4 Jan
A common myth is that undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes. But, a recent article in The Seattle Times shows that each year billions of dollars are deducted from undocumented workers’ pay checks, and this money goes to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Medicare. The funds go into what is called an Earning Suspense File, established to collect money from filers whose names do not match social security numbers. In 2009, the last year for which figures were available, there were $72.8 billion in wages from 7.7 million workers whose names did not match the social security numbers. Of this, approximately $9 billion went to the SSA system and an additional $2.1 billion went to Medicare. In addition, they also pay sales tax, income taxes and rent, which landlords use to pay property taxes. Instead of seeing the benefits from these billions, undocumented workers face accusations that they do not pay taxes.
This inaccurate – and discriminatory- accusation is just another example of how U.S. policies and society exploit and scapegoat our undocumented workers. Less obvious are the health repercussions of these false assumptions. For instance, many undocumented workers will not be able to claim the benefits to which they contribute, such as Medicare or Social Security pensions. The “immigrants-do-not-pay-taxes” myth also stigmatizes workers and encourages flawed policies, such as E-verify, that further marginalize undocumented workers. Anti-immigrant systems and policies exploit immigrant workers, when what our society needs to do is recognize the contributions of our workers and treat them fairly. One way to start is by exposing these discriminatory myths.
In Other News
Calif. bans car tow practice that hit illegal immigrants, USA Today, 12.27.11
On Sunday, a new law took effect that prohibits police from impounding cars at checkpoints if the only offense is not having a license. Immigrant advocates have long critiqued checkpoints as unjustly targeting undocumented immigrants while towing companies gain huge profits from impounding fees.
As Deportations Rise to Record Levels, Most Latinos Oppose Obama’s Policy, Pew Hispanic Research Center, 12.28.11
The report finds that “By a ratio of more than two-to-one (59% versus 27%), Latinos disapprove of the way the Obama administration is handling deportations of unauthorized immigrants.”
Immigration laws pose a test of states’ rights in Supreme Court, LA Times, 12.28.11
While federal judges have blocked anti-immigrant laws introduce by conservatives in half a dozen states like South Carolina and Arizona,  the Supreme Court’s conservative majority may shift against immigrant rights advocates.

E-verify sections of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigration law now in effect, 1.2.12
Employers in Alabama and Georgia are now required to use the E-verify system, which mandates employers to sign a document confirming that “they’ve e-verified their employees….[and] are complying with federal law.”

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Language is Powerful, Let’s Use it for Justice, 11/7-11/14

15 Nov
The Associated Press Updates Its Stylebook, Still Clings to I-Word, Colorlines, 11/10/11
Entering the US without authorization or “papers” is a misdemeanor (For comparison sake, some other misdemeanors include public intoxication, disorderly conduct or vandalism).  Yet, stereotypes of undocumented immigrants as criminals persist and the use of the word “illegal” to describe these individuals has become mainstream practice.

Colorlines has provided insightful reporting on the history and current use of the term “illegal” in US media and political discourse and how it has shaped attitudes towards immigrants.  This week, they report that the Associated Press’ style guidelines have been updated, dropping the use of “illegal aliens” or “illegals”, but endorsing the use of “illegal immigrant.”  The AP claims that this term is accurate and neutral.  Colorlines provides convincing arguments for why this term is not neutral and provides a link to the AP’s comments page.  Take a moment to urge the AP to drop “illegal immigrant.” Continue reading

California leads the way in rectifying injustice and discrimination faced by immigrants, 10/3 -10/11

12 Oct

It’s been a very busy week! A lot has happened around immigration and there has been a lot of great energy generated by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Let’s start with the bad news:
Alabama’s atrocious law continues to perpetuate racism, fear and inequities from all sides. A recent article in the Guardian shows that the law is threatening some of the most basic necessities, like access to water. A shameful poster in a town hall said “Attention to all water customers. To be compliant with new laws concerning immigration you must have an Alabama driver’s licence… or you may lose water service.” While the federal government has asked the appeals court to block Alabama’s harsh and discriminatory law, Alabama has countered by urging the court to let them continue with the atrocious law.

In more uplifting news:

Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, congratulates Assemblyman (D-Los Angeles) Gil Cedillo, left, the author of California's version of the Dream Act, AB 130

California is leading the way in rectifying some of the injustices and discrimination that immigrants face. Here are a couple of bills that Governor Jerry Brown signed this past week that support our immigrants and our communities:

  • California DREAM Act. Governor Jerry Brown signs the second part of the California DREAM Act (the first part had already been passed). While the new bills do not allow a pathway for citizenship, they do allow undocumented students to access state and private financial aid streams for college.
  • Checkpoint Impounds. Brown also signs AB 353, which prohibits police at checkpoints from seizing a car solely because the driver is unlicensed. The driver’s car is impounded for 30 days and can result up to $2,000 in fines and fees, generating a lucrative industry for tow companies and local governments. Although the purpose of checkpoints is to stop intoxicated drivers, an investigative report found that, on average, six cars are impounded for everyone one drunk driver that is stopped.  The law will take effect on January 1, 2012. It will give unlicensed drivers time to find someone with a license to retrieve the car and avoid impound.
  • E-verify. Brown also signed AB 1236, a bill the prohibits cities from requiring businesses to use E-verify.

To get more updates on other legislative bills affecting our immigrant communities, check out the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Given all the atrocities that we have seen against immigrants with laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona infringing on basic human rights, I am proud of California for acting for the health and well-being of our communities. It is difficult for me to understand how some governments, like Alabama’s, are endorsing and seeking to enforce laws that infringe on basic human rights. These state governments are choosing to ignore the law’s wide spread negative effects on everyone: families, communities, employers, schools, and societies. This doesn’t even include the poor reputation that Alabama is now going to have with other states and nations.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown should be applauded for his actions to improve the well-being of our immigrants. These actions are not only the fair and just thing to do, but they will also strengthen communities in California. While there is still more to be done, both on a local level and at a national level to provide a pathway of citizenship for our undocumented individuals, it is uplifting to see steps in a just direction. Let’s continue to push the movement of equality for all forward.

Related News:

After Ruling, Hispanics Flee an Alabama Town, New York Times, October 3
The harsh and unjust effects of Alabama’s law are seen almost immediately. People are leaving behind their homes, parents are taking their children out of schools, and workers are leaving their jobs.

Society of Professional Journalists Votes to Drop the I-Word, Colorlines, October 4
In a positive move that supports the “Drop the i-word” campaign, the 7,800-member Society of Professional Journalists passed a resolution which discontinued the use of the term “illegal alien” and is re-evaluating the term “illegal immigrant.”

Georgia farmers losing millions to anti-migrant law, Fox News Latino, October 5
Facing a labor shortage as a result of anti-immigration law, Georgia’s agricultural industry reports losses in millions of dollars ($140 million).

LGBTQ Organizations Come Out for the Immediate Elimination of ICE’s “Secure Communities” Program, Community United Against Violence, October 11
Piggybacking on National Coming Out Day, LGBTQ organizations come out and urge President Obama to immediately eliminate S-Comm. The press release includes a call to other organizations to also endorse this action.

Cruelty at the Border, 9/18-9/25

27 Sep
No más muerte painting

Photo by Steve and Paige

New report reveals border patrol abuse, NACLA, 9/21/11
A new report, “Culture of Cruelty,” from a humanitarian aid organization No More Deaths, outlines the abuse faced by migrants at the hands of border patrol agents. Examples of the abuse experienced by a significant proportion of border patrol detainees include: denial of water, denial of emergency aid, death threats, physical abuse, and sleep deprivation.
The dangerous conditions at the southern border represent the most concrete examples of health threats that immigrants face on their way to the United States. The last few decades has seen an increase in the militarization of the border.  This has led to more perilous crossings because migrants are going to more desolate parts of the border, or are trying riskier methods to cross.
Although the Curious Ostrich often focuses on the myriad and sometimes indirect ways our immigration policy is harmful to people’s health, the dangers at the border are perhaps the most obvious and directly endanger people’s lives. People are dying at the border because of the misguided notion that our borders need to be militarized. The report gives recommendations to reduce the health threats, such as increasing access to water and making the border patrol more accountable with civilian oversight committees. Read the report to see how you can help No More Deaths. Continue reading