Undocumented workers play a vital role

Ronald Montoya

Last week, the Sundial reported that the LAPD Deputy Chief Charles Beck halted an anti-immigration rally from taking place. Homeless activist Ted Hayes had organized the rally on behalf of his anti-immigration group, Choose Black America. According to the article, his group opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants on the grounds that U.S.-born children take government resources away from low-income African American communities.

I’m not sure what Hayes is basing this on, because a recent study by the Urban Institute, a non-profit research organization, concluded that extending legal status to undocumented immigrants – whether temporarily or permanently – could help them integrate by opening up new job possibilities, thus possibly lowering poverty rates and demand for public services.

The study also concluded that in 2004, 26 percent of children with undocumented immigrant parents were uninsured in California, compared with 9 percent of children with native-born parents.

So where is the drain on the system? Why are Hayes and his supporters so upset at the situation? This country has existed with various patterns of immigration since its inception, so why all the protests now?

Undocumented workers play a vital role in our economy, whether we care to admit it or not. But anti-immigration proponents would have you think otherwise. They’d probably tell you that these workers don’t pay any taxes, so how can they possibly be contributing? This may be true in some cases, but undocumented workers still have to buy food at the grocery store. They still have to purchase clothing and put gas in their cars. This is part of the economy as well; it’s just in a different form.

It’s a free country and Hayes is entitled to his own opinion, but he didn’t propose a solution. Pointing fingers and making accusations doesn’t solve anything. What would happen if his goal were actually reached and amnesty was denied to immigrants? Does he plan on deporting every undocumented immigrant in the United States?

The Urban Institute’s study also pointed out that California’s undocumented immigrant population is so large and well established that any attempts to deport them, prohibit their employment or otherwise force them to leave the country, would have a major impact on the state’s economy.

If Hayes is truly concerned with the well-being of low-income African American communities, he shouldn’t concern himself with what state resources are being “taken away,” but instead focus on programs that improve the opportunities for his community and create situations where they are no longer dependent on these resources.

And this is because I highly doubt an undocumented immigrant’s main concern is finding new ways to milk the state for every penny. At the end of the day, they just want to find a decent job and provide for their family. Where’s the harm in that?