Since posting about the media's sloppy and inaccurate handling of the immigration issue more than a week ago I have been innundated with mail - most of it smart and grateful, but some of it so ill-informed and hateful it shocks me. And I thought nothing could shock me anymore.
Today I spent the morning responding to one typical missive sent from "Michael," and I wanted to share my findings with you. And him. Michael? This one's for you, buddy.
I have placed Michael's points and comments in italics, and my responses in bold. Ready? Set? STUPIDITY!
MICHAEL SAYS: 1. The place increasingly difficult demands on an already overloaded medical system and inability to pay exacerbated by showing up for treatment at emergency rooms where they cannot be refused.
ALISA SAYS: My dear Michael: By far the biggest strain on our healthcare system is the 45 million uninsured American citizens who are far more likely than any undocumented immigrant to seek the free treatment you describe here. Now, before you say, “yeah, but they’re 'murkin citizens,” consider that many of them are too poor to pay taxes. So your taxes are going to pay for their free health care. This crisis has been created by our being the only Industrialized Western Democracy on EARTH without universal health care. If your concern is truly about taxpayer money being spent to pay for other people’s healthcare, you should address this problem honestly and with the correct facts.
For the record, 45 million is a number larger than the entire elderly population of this nation, larger than the entire African American population of this nation, larger than the entire LEGAL Latino population of this nation and larger than the entire country of Canada, and more than four times the entire population of Greece.
The number of American citizens without healthcare has SOARED under President Bush. The number of uninsured Americans has GROWN by 5.2 million since 2000. Most of these people are non-Hispanic, poor whites. In fact, under our current president we have witnessed the single largest increase in poverty among white Americans IN HISTORY. Could it be that you leaders would like to distract you from this and other shocking facts about their lack of leadship? Could it be that scapegoating “illegals” is a convenient way to draw the attention of concerned Americans like you from the real issues that face us all?
Finally, I will leave you with the key finding of a report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities regarding healthcare coverage in our nation for 2004, the most recent year for which data is available: The percentage of native citizens who were uninsured rose in 2004, while the percentage of non-citizen immigrants who lacked coverage fell.
I appreciate your alarm, but as you can see it is being misdirected by a sophisticated propaganda machine whose main puppets are Fox News, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. The facts do not support your concerns.
MICHAEL SAYS: 2. They overwhelm the public school system and not being property owners they pay no taxes to support the schools.
Of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the United States, 1.6 million are children under 18, according to the Urban Foundation. If you figure many of them are not yet old enough to be in school, we are talking somewhere around 1 million undocumented immigrant children in the United States – from every nation on earth.
According to the press office at the National Education Association, there are currently 48,132,518 children enrolled in America’s public school system. Assuming 1 million of them are undocumented immigrant children, this means 2 percent of America’s public school students are undocumented immigrants.
Besides which, most undocumented immigrants do, in fact, pay property taxes. Illegal immigrants who are not property owners live in rental properties for which the OWNER does, in fact, have to pay property tax. Unless the owner is extremely stupid, this tax is covered by the rent. (Real Estate 101, my friends.) Therefore the illegal immigrants, like all renters, are paying the landlord’s property tax.
Therefore, the number of undocumented immigrant children whose parents are not paying taxes who are enrolled in American public schools is probably miniscule. Somewhere less than a quarter of one percent of all illegal immigrant children in public schools have parents who do not pay for those schools.
Let us reflect on the Webster’s dictionary definition of “overwhelm,” the word you used to describe the illegal immigrant population in America’s public schools. It is: “Upset, Overthrow, to cover over completely, to overcome through superior force or numbers.”
Let us review another word from Webster’s: Exaggeration. “To enlarge beyond bounds or the truth.”
You are an exaggerator. Actually, exaggerator is a generous description of what you are. The best description goes like this: “One that tells lies.” You are a liar.
MICHAEL SAYS: 3. They do not register for selective service and do not serve in the military - forcing legal Americans to defend them.
ALISA SAYS: Sigh. According the U.S. government, all male immigrants – legal and otherwise – are required by U.S. law to register for selective service.
According to the National Center for Immigration Law, one in ten U.S. soliders who have DIED in Iraq have been immigrants. Five percent of those serving in our military are illegal immigrants.
The first soldier to die for the United States in the current war in Iraq was Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.
He died for you.
You are not in Iraq fighting for anyone. You are home, sending lie-riddled missives to strangers at 3 a.m. on your computer.
MICHAEL SAYS: 4. The only tax they're likely to pay is sales taxes which they cannot avoid and can remain anonymous.
ALISA SAYS: The vast majority of illegal immigrants work in jobs that pay such low wages they would receive all of their federal and state income tax back on April 15 if they did pay taxes.
Many illegal immigrants do, in fact, pay taxes. According to the U.S. government, the majority of illegal immigrants pay taxes through Individual Taxpayer Identification numbers of false social security numbers. On average, immigrants – regardless of legal status – will pay $80,000 per capita MORE in taxes than they will USE in government services.
The Social Security Administration at this very moment holds $420 BILLION in taxes paid from earnings of illegal immigrants who, because of their legal status, are ineligible to claim the funds.
Meanwhile, since taking office, George W. Bush has SLASHED taxes for the top 1 percent of the population – ie the VERY RICH. The average amount of money SAVED in taxes for the 1.3 million wealthiest Americans PER YEAR thanks to these new laws is: $53,120 PER PERSON. That is a total of $69056000000.00 - PER YEAR - in taxes that we were getting from the nation’s mullti-billionaires BEFORE Bush that we are NOT getting now, taxes that the billionaires would not have even noticed were gone. That's $69 billion. A year. For this amount of money, we as a nation could have provided health coverage for 40 million AMERICANS for a year; almost the exact number of Americans now living without health insurance. For that matter, we could have provided health coverage for FOUR TIMES the number of illegal immigrants as currently reside here; not that you'd ever want us to do something like that. My point is, this money you're worried about? It's being taken from the poor to give to the rich by our sick Reverse-Robin-Hood administration.
Sixty-nine billion dollars PAID BY OUR GOVERNMENT AS A GIFT TO THE RICH OF THIS NATION is many, many times more than anything 11 million illegal immigrants working for $4 an hour could contribute.
You want to talk about people sucking the country dry and not doing their part to contribute to the nation? Let’s talk about Bush’s billionaire friends and their outrageous and criminal tax cuts, and the people who suffer as a result.
Not only are you misinformed, you have fallen for propaganda aimed at distracting your from the real thievery going on in our land.
MICHAEL WHINES: 5. They refuse to assimilate, learn English, and send much of what they earn back to Mexico.
ALISA SAYS: The Pew Center for Hispanic research shows that by the third generation all immigrant grandchildren – NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE FROM OR THE LEGAL STATUS OF THEIR ANCESTORS – are COMPLETELY ASSIMILATED ENGLISH SPEAKERS.
There is not a single third-generation Hispanic in the United States whose primary or dominant language is Spanish. NOT ONE.
This is precisely the same assimilation pattern followed by the Germans, Italians, French and every other linguistic minority immigrant group to this nation.
As for remittances? Only one in five illegal immigrants send money to another nation.
I will offer as further argument a note I got from my father this morning. He is a sociology professor who has taught at Duke University and is currently at the University of New Mexico. He was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. at 15, and within two years could read, write and speak English better than you do. (Your spelling is miserable. Read often?)
On the issue or remittances, Dr. Nelson Valdes said: “Certain uninformed critics of illegal immigration have written on your blog that remittances to Mexico and other nations take money out of the US economy. The same argument should be held against US foreign investments abroad. After all, the amount of corporate transfers of capital is greater than the amount of remittances sent by low-paid workers. Moreover, if the US is to oppose the money remittances of "migrant workers" - should the reverse argument be held? That is, should US corporations abroad NOT be allowed to remit profits to the United States?
Heck, let's put an end to globalization altogether!”
MICHAEL BITCHES: 6. This is a modified, vitriolic, emotional effort on your part to act like Cynthia McKinney, a race baiter. There are legal immigrants and illegal aliens. It has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or country of origin and your attempts to cast it that way are hollow.
ALISA CLARIFIES: Huh? I have NEVER tried to cast this debate in ethnic or national terms. I have been working very hard to educate people NOT to. Please read my words before writing lies about me.
Secondly, Latinos/Hispanics are NOT A RACE. Many Latinos are white, many are black. Etc. See this post please.
MICHAEL BABBLES: 7. Stop trying to insinuate your way into this country - follow the laws and rules - and wait your turn. If you do, I say, "Welcome to America." Otherwise, get out now!
ALISA LAUGHS: Dude, are you talking to me? I got to this country the same way you did: I was born here, to a mother who is a sixth-generation New Mexican.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Please refrain from doing so again unless you cite your sources – and they are something other than Sean Hannity.