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Thursday, March 2, 2017 12:21 am

Absolutely ridiculous

Trump is deporting America’s future

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“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Springfield’s Rosanna Pulido about a bill in the General Assembly that would bar from schools, health care facilities and places of worship non-federal law enforcement officers seeking to enforce the Trumpian crackdown on residents whose papers are not in order. “I think the biggest question we have for Governor Rauner and any legislator who would want to pass this bill is: Does making it easier for illegal aliens to stay in Illinois improve the lives of Illinois residents?”

I think I can help here. The answer is, yes, it does.

Trump and his puppet master Steve Bannon insist that unauthorized immigrants are committing grievous crimes, taking jobs away from citizens and burdening public spending. Are they?

About crime: Trump’s order states that many people who enter the country illegally “present a significant threat to national security and public safety.” It is a much-studied claim that has been refuted by real-world evidence for years. Immigrants, authorized and otherwise, are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the U.S., and crime rates tend to go down, not up, in places with lots of immigrants. Are some undocumented arrivals bad hombres? Of course, but there are many fewer of them still here; most of the more than 2.5 million undocumented people deported by President Obama between 2009 and 2015 were criminals. Unlike Obama, Trump does not target criminals; rather, he would make criminals out of all. That’s not enforcing the law, that’s degrading it.

As for government spending, the public pays to educate the children of undocumented parents too, although it must be remembered that many of those kids are citizens and in any event only about 1 in 11 are of school age. And because many of these people are poor, they use public health clinics. But these undocumented are hardly welfare layabouts. Of the estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2014, 8 million were either working or actively looking for work, a higher percentage than natives. They pay sales and excise taxes every time they fill up the car. They pay sales taxes at the store. Renters pay their landlords’ property taxes, and homeowners of course pay their own. Using data from a few years back, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that undocumented workers in Illinois put nearly $750 million in state and local taxes into government coffers. As for federal income taxes, their employers withhold estimated taxes from their checks like they do any employee; as a result they probably pay a higher share of their income in federal incomes taxes than this president does.

The Trump administration stresses the costs to the nation of allowing illegals to stay here. Better they should look at the costs to the nation of making them leave. Deport millions and you take millions of shoppers out of the supermarkets and stores. Deportation also will take millions of renters out of the housing markets. As for housing, about a third of the targeted persons own their own homes or live with family members or friends who do; empty those houses and house values will plummet in many markets. Overall, their loss from the workforce could cost the U.S. $5 trillion in economic activity over a decade.

Farming is probably the industry likely to be hardest hit by Trump’s raids. More than 70 percent of the farm workers in Illinois are immigrants, and many can be assumed to be undocumented. Two of five workers in the hospitality industry are immigrants, many also undocumented. Construction and the restaurant trade also will be hit. And who will fill those jobs? The jobs that drew these people to this country were available because no Americans wanted to fill them. Americans don’t want to install roof shingles in August or spend 8 hours a day bent over in a field or clean up prom-goers’ puke from hotel bathrooms or wipe clean your grandmother at the home. So who will do the work?

And what about the costs to the people involved? Nearly nine of 10 of the Illinois family households that include at least one undocumented immigrant also include at least one member who is naturalized or has a green card; three-fourths of them include a native-born U.S. citizen. That means a perfect implementation of Trump’s crackdown will split up thousands of families. This is not speculation; between 2007 and 2013 more than 56,000 children in Illinois were left alone when their parents or guardians were taken way.

Apply a simple-minded policy to complicated human lives and the result is not justice but fear and chaos, intended by the administration, I suspect, to spur self-deportation. But about two-thirds of the adults among what the order damns as “removal aliens” in 2014 had been in the U.S. at least a decade. This country is their country now. What kind of country does this to people who are law-abiding and productive, who have deep roots in our country and culture, and whose loss will impoverish our national prospects? Like Ms. Pulido says, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Contact James Krohe Jr. at CaptBogue@outlook.com.

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