On Immigration, Cite the Bible – and the Chamber


On Immigration, Cite the Bible – and the Chamber | Robert Parham, Immigration, Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber resource helps to buttress the moral imperative for why goodwill people of faith ought to care for undocumented immigrants, especially for those who privatize and spiritualize the Bible, Parham writes.
The Chamber of Commerce has a resource every pastor needs – and needs to be able to cite.

If the goodwill faith community seeks the welfare of the undocumented immigrant based on the biblical imperative to care for the immigrant, the business community seeks the welfare of the undocumented based on what's good for business. Motives may differ, but the end result may be a better society.

That's why every house of faith leader ought to get a document available from the Chamber of Commerce. The PDF is available here.

The pro-business federation's "Immigration: Myths and Facts" resource deserves reading, citing and distributing.

The report addresses seven myths – with 61 footnotes.

Often cited by the anti-immigrant crowd and the uninformed is the myth that the undocumented don't pay taxes, a myth addressed in our documentary Gospel Without Borders.

"Undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes, just like every other consumer in the United States. Undocumented immigrants also pay property taxes – even if they rent housing," reads the pamphlet.

"Undocumented immigrants provide an enormous subsidy to the Social Security system in particular. Each year, Social Security taxes are withheld from billions of dollars in wages earned by workers whose names and Social Security numbers do not match the records of the Social Security Administration (SSA)," said the Chamber. "According to the SSA, 'a major portion' of these mismatched wages are earned by undocumented immigrants using fake documents. As of October 2009, these wages – which are tracked through the SSA's Earnings Suspense File (ESF) – totaled $836 billion."

Other tax payments are also sizable. Undocumented immigrants contributed in 2010 more than $11 billion in taxes to state and local governments, including $1.6 billion in Texas and between $215.6 million and $252.5 million in Georgia.

Once the myth that "they" don't pay taxes is dispatched, the next argument against the undocumented is that "they" used up "our" benefits.

The Chamber addresses that myth, pointing out that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps and other assistance programs.

"A number of state studies have demonstrated that, on average, immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in government services and benefits. For instance, a study in Arizona found that the state's immigrants generate $2.4 billion in tax revenue per year, which more than offsets the $1.4 billion worth of educational, health-care, and law-enforcement resources they utilize," read the pamphlet.

What about crime?

That myth is addressed, too.

"Immigration is not associated with rising crime," said the Chamber.

"Between 1990 and 2009, the number of immigrants in the United States roughly doubled, from 19.8 million to 38.5 million. The number of undocumented immigrants tripled, from 3.5 million to 11.1 million, so that the undocumented in 1990 were about 18% of the number of all immigrants in the U.S. and in 2009 were about 29% of the immigrant population. Yet the violent crime rate declined by 41 percent and the property crime rate fell by 40 percent," read the document. "Immigrants are much less likely to be behind bars than native-born Americans."

Other myths addressed and dispatched are that immigrants take American jobs, immigrants drive down wages, immigrants are overpopulating the country, and immigrants don't want to assimilate (learn to speak English, for example).

The Chamber resource helps to buttress the moral imperative for why goodwill people of faith ought to care for undocumented immigrants, especially for those who privatize and spiritualize the Bible.

Those who water down the biblical witness need another compass. That's why the Chamber's pamphlet is a needed tool to address the immigration issue in houses of faith.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1.

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