Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Another Immigration Myth Bites the Dust

Another Immigration Myth Bites the Dust

LatinaLista — By now, the vast majority of states in the nation have considered or have passed legislation targeting undocumented immigrants living and working within their city limits.

(Source: Angus Reid Global Monitor)
The driving force to get this legislation passed has always been the accusations that undocumented immigrants are costing taxpayers money and taking advantage of such programs as welfare, food stamps, etc.
The funny thing is that the politicians and pundits who are making these accusations never fully explain how this is happening. They just have repeated it so often that people are duped into thinking it must be fact.
At least, that’s what happened in Alabama and now they’re learning a hard truth.

Alabama politicians, wanting to jump on the bandwagon to show their constituents that they can act faster than Congress when it comes to meting out Amerian justice to undocumented immigrants, are having to eat their words because they were too busy trying to be first.
In a move to ferret out all those undocumented immigrants Alabama politicians just knew were loitering on the state’s Medicaid rolls and using precious Alabama taxpayer money, they passed a bill called The Deficit Reduction Act.
Among other things, the bill required a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship from people before they could qualify to continue or begin receiving Medicaid.
What better way to expose illegal immigrants, right? They’re the only ones who don’t have US birth certificates — or so thought the wise politicians in Alabama.
It seems there are a lot of people who don’t have the proper paperwork to show they are citizens.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports that, More than 5,000 people have lost their Medicaid coverage for failing to provide a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, according to data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency.
Children were the largest group affected: 2,081 black children and 1,213 white children were removed from Medicaid.

The ironic thing is that Latinos comprised only 2% of the people dropped from the rolls, whereas Blacks accounted for 60% of those who were dropped.
But, the most telling thing about this sad fiasco is that Alabama Medicaid Commissioner, Carol Steckel, went on the record to say that Alabama doesn’t have a large problem with illegal immigrants trying to cheat the state out of Medicaid dollars.
The good news for the poor people, and they were mostly low-income, is that they are now back on the rolls after Medicaid officials realized what was happening.
Yet, all of this could have been avoided, and in other states where this could happen, if the people, politicians and constituents, had done their home work to know that no undocumented person in their right mind would sign up for government assistance and draw that kind of attention to themselves.
In fact, in a 2004 Executive Summary published by the Center for Immigration Studies, it was found that:

With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal status or heavy use of most social services.
On average, the costs that illegal households impose on federal coffers are less than half that of other households, but their tax payments are only one-fourth that of other households.

But even with their low educational levels, thus not able to pay higher taxes (what a vicious cycle that’s been created for them), they still don’t use most, if any, social services.
Latinos who do use those social services, and there are too many, are not the ones who are illegal, but the ones who are citizens — 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Latinos.
Politicians and pundits who refer to the high “Hispanic” welfare, food stamps and Medicaid rolls are getting their Hispanics mixed up — which goes to show that in the minds of these politicians the terms “Hispanic” and “illegal” are synonymous.
And that’s disturbing news for the rest of us.

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  • Indiana Bob
    May 29, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Great Post!
    One of the most entertaining films I have seen recently was ¨A day without a Mexican¨. I imagine you have seen it as well, but I really loved how the film interjected facts about imigration amongst the tongue-in-cheek plot.
    What I have concluded about this debate is it is being driven by good ole fashion jingoism. Facts generally have a hard time competing with that.
    I really like your blog (found it thanks to Unapologetic Mexican – linked above). Keep up the good work!
    Indiana Bob

  • PA_Lady
    May 29, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    I spent 58 days trying to get a copy of my son’s birth certificate from Arizona so he could apply for his driver’s permit. At one point into this ordeal, after faxing copies of my birth certificate and license, the woman started asking test questions. It was going fine until: “What hospital was he born in?” I replied with: “832nd Med Group Hospital, Luke AFB”. Wrong she tells me. It reads “Luke AFB Hospital”, and now obviously, I’m a charlatan trying to get papers for possibly illegal reasons.
    At which point I called into question her parentage, her intelligence, and her species. How many hospitals does she think that base has?!
    That’s the sole effect of these laws: They punish citizens while proving non-citizens aren’t using – much less abusing – government programs.

  • turtlebella
    May 30, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I hope all those dumb ass legislators lose their jobs next election cycle (unlikely but my hope: it dies hard). And yeah, I’ve always thought that the whole argument that undocumented workers here are a drain on the system (be it health care or eduction or food or whatever) to be really far-fetched. It’s pretty bad that to prove that a whole lot of people had to get booted off medicaid

  • Sir jorge
    May 30, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    I knew all along that people were not using civil services.
    My dad for example never did, and barely speaks english, and only now is he finally getting his citizenship, after 20+ years here.

  • Plume
    May 30, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    The title of the article is misleading. If you read the article, you notice that it does actually say the following:
    “With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree,
    the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education
    levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal
    status or heavy use of most social services.”
    In other words, illegal aliens ARE actually consuming more in services than they are paying in taxes, as a group (notice the word “they create a fiscal deficit”)?
    Shoddiness of this kind in articles only discredits us, by making people believe that we can’t read/do arithmetic/ think straight.

  • Davin Gauthier
    June 15, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Millions of US viewers tune in for the finale of The Sopranos, to learn the fate of mob boss Tony Soprano…

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