December 17, 2007


Huckabee's Immigration Fumble: There's a reason Republicans are losing Hispanic voters (JASON L. RILEY, December 17, 2007, Opinion Journal)

If illegal immigrants didn't pay taxes, Mr. Romney might have a point. But they do pay taxes, and by doing so they subsidize services that only legal residents can access. For starters, more than half and up to three-quarters of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are working "on the books," which means they're paying federal and state income taxes, just like the rest of us. They are also paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, even though undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive benefits from either program. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee last year, the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration noted that between 1937 and 2003, contributions to Social Security from unauthorized workers totaled an estimated $520 billion.

But even illegals working in the cash economy can't avoid paying consumption taxes, which are levied on the purchase of goods and services. Nor can they duck property taxes, even if they're renting. Mr. Romney implies that illegal aliens are a net drain on state coffers, but Mr. Huckabee's native Arkansas is an example of immigrants paying their way, and then some.

Between 2000 and 2005, Arkansas had the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the country. Today, some two-thirds of the state's 100,000 immigrants are Hispanic and half are undocumented. Yet a study released earlier this year by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation found these newcomers to "have a small but positive net fiscal impact on the Arkansas state budget."

Taking into account both education and health care expenditures, the report found that immigrants "cost" the state $237 million in 2004, but made direct and indirect contributions of $257 million. Immigrant Arkansans also generated some $3 billion in business revenues. According to the authors, without this foreign labor, "the output of the state's manufacturing industry would likely be lowered by about $1.4 billion--or about 8 percent of the industry's $16.2 billion total contribution to the gross state product in 2004."

Mr. Huckabee might have used such data to rebut critics and point out that similar studies done in Texas, North Carolina, Oregon and elsewhere found similar results. Instead, his response was the "Secure America Plan," which involves fencing off Mexico by 2010, hiring more guards to patrol the Rio Grande, and giving the estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. 120 days to go back where they came from. Like Rudy Giuliani and Mr. Romney, Mr. Huckabee is convinced that tough talk on immigration, however irrational, is necessary to win the nomination. And while such rhetoric may indeed earn you support from nativist groups like the Minutemen, who endorsed Mr. Huckabee last week, there's a danger that it also could consign the GOP to minority status in Washington for some time. that you start pandering instead of running on your record.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 17, 2007 3:42 PM

Bingo. Get the fair tax and the illegal aliens, along with every politician, pimp and drug pusher starts carrying the full load of taxes.

BTW the unfairness of taxing the illegals at all when they are ineligible for many of the benefits the goverment dispenses is just part of the cynical exploitation which corrupts the entire regime. You cannot have a system of fraud and deceit like this without pervasive corruption.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 17, 2007 5:45 PM

It's a simple cash transaction--they buy their way into the system.

Posted by: oj at December 17, 2007 8:07 PM