In answer to allegations that “illegal” immigrants are draining our welfare system, we want to point out that they cannot and do not apply for our social services. You must be a U.S. citizen or at least a permanent legal resident in order to qualify.
Mexicans, specifically, do not understand the concept of having the government support them. They come here to WORK, and they work very hard for very little money. Taxes and social security are deducted from their paychecks. Undocumented immigrants do not dare to file for a tax refund, nor will they ever collect Social Security, yet they are paying into both the tax base and a retirement system from which they will never benefit. Therefore, it is only fair that their children should have just as much opportunity for public education as any other taxpayer’s child because undocumented immigrants pay the same taxes as citizens.
Secondly, you need to understand the current status of Finger Lakes area agriculture. Thirty or 40 years ago, teenagers would spend school vacations working in the vineyards to earn money. Today, most citizens are not willing to work so hard for so little money. If you think that the jobs left open after these deportations will be filled by unemployed citizens, you are dreaming. Without a migrant workforce, farmers will have to pay higher wages in order to find people willing to work these jobs.
Perhaps we will all need the extra income since the wage increase will be reflected in the prices we pay for groceries. Our wine industry, which provides us with a substantial tax base in addition to bringing in thousands of tourists, will perhaps be one of the hardest hit. So sure, deport farm workers — that is if you don’t mind paying the price.
Congress has had ample opportunity to find a realistic, fair, and economically feasible solution to our dependence on undocumented workers. However, under House speakers John Boehner and now, Paul Ryan, the Republican-led House leadership has refused to let immigration reform legislation even come to a vote. This failure has led directly to draconian measures that needlessly persecute people at taxpayer expense.
Mass deportations, 10,000 additional immigration agents, new detention centers, more strain on our courts, and a 2000-mile border wall will cost billions. That money has to come from somewhere. Ask yourself, “What government agencies and services am I willing to give up in order to pay for this?”
This piece was co-authored by Kim Hansen, Anne Hoyt and Nancey Velez-Anderson. Hoyt, of Geneva, is an adjunct instructor for the Humanities and Adult Basic Education departments at Finger Lakes Community College and has master’s degrees in journalism from Syracuse. She is a former writer for the Finger Lakes Times.