Divisive, Ineffective Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants Could Cost Taxpayers $6.1 million
Today, while working families in Prince William County, Virginia filed tax returns in a state with a $19 million dollar deficit and continued to face a growing national recession, County Chairman Cory Stewart persisted in his efforts to bleed taxpayers dry by championing a controversial and ineffective crackdown on illegal immigrants that will cost the county $6.1 million.
Stewart and the Prince William County Board of Supervisors are facing increasing pressure from the community to reconsider the police crackdown because of the unexpected financial costs and inevitable public relations nightmare. Meanwhile, Stewart has proposed a doubling of the budget (from $2.8 million to $6.1 million) for next year, including $3 million to install cameras in police cars to guard against future lawsuits.
“Instead of doing his job and advocating for what is best for his community, Stewart continues to champion his xenophobic, ineffective crusade to scapegoat hard working, tax-paying Virginians,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “I challenge Stewart’s colleagues and other leaders not to support programs that are ineffective and fueled by hatred, but to work toward solutions to the illegal immigration issue that are tough, effective and don’t take even more money out of the taxpayers pockets. There are countless examples of vibrant, diverse communities that become down-trodden ghost towns – is that what Corey Stewart wants for Prince Williams County?”
Not only is Stewart trying to bleed taxpayers of dry, he is misleading them as well by perpetuating myths about undocumented immigrants to support his bigoted programs.
Myth #1 : Illegal Immigrants Do Not Pay Taxes or Contribute Financially to the Community
The Commonwealth Institute recently released a report detailing the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants in Virginia. They estimate that the taxes paid by the undocumented population total between $260 million and $311 million. When the payroll taxes of employers of undocumented immigrants working on the books are considered, these numbers increase to between $379 million and $453 million. (“Fiscal Facts: Tax Contributions of Virginia’s Undocumented Immigrants,” The Commonwealth Institute, March 2008)
• The combined income of Virginia’s undocumented workers is between $2.99 billion and $3.59 billion.
• Estimates indicate that half of Virginia’s undocumented population pays federal or state income taxes.
• Virginia’s undocumented population pays an estimated total of between $145 million and $174 million in state income taxes, sales and excise taxes, and property taxes.
• Undocumented immigrants working “on the books” pay an additional $114 million to $137 million in Social Security and Medicare taxes. Their employers match this contribution and pay an additional $4 million to $5 million in unemployment insurance taxes on their behalf.
Myth #2: Stewart claims that his police crackdown program only targets illegal immigrants and does not affect legal immigrants.
The illegal immigrant crackdown is driving away a Latino community that is both a financial and cultural cornerstone of Prince William County.
As the Washington Post recently reported, “a vibrant Latino subculture built in Prince William County over more than a decade is starting to come undone in a matter of months. With Latinos fleeing the combined effects of the construction downturn, the mortgage crisis and new local laws aimed at catching illegal immigrants, Latino shops are on the brink of bankruptcy, church groups are hemorrhaging members, neighborhoods are dotted with for-sale signs, and once-busy strip malls have been transformed into ghost towns.” (“In N.Va., a Latino Community Unravels Job Losses and Pr. William Law Hit Illegal Immigrants and Others,” Washington Post, March 27, 2008)
Myth #3: Stewart claims that forcing immigrants to leave Prince William County will improve the economy.
Riverside, New Jersey and Valley Park, Missouri are just two of many examples from around the country of cities, town and counties where anti-immigrant policies have not only been ineffective, but also damaged the economy and drastically changed the landscape of communities.
In Riverside, NJ, the town Council passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act which banned employers and landlords from hiring or housing illegal immigrants. The result? “The downtown streets of this working-class town – usually filled with many of the immigrants who have made this place home – were unusually empty..” [New York Times]
Valley Park, MO
In Valley Park, MO, Mayor Jeffery Whitteaker was just defeated in his re-election bid precisely because he insisted on pursuing anti-immigrant policies that did nothing other than divide the community at the taxpayer’s expense.
America’s Voice, the newly-founded communications and rapid-response arm of a reinvigorated campaign to advance immigration reform. Its goal is to build the public support and political power necessary to enact broad immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million immigrants working and living in the U.S. without proper legal status.