The Republican Congress member falsely claimed undocumented immigrants are a massive fiscal drain on the federal government.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany on Tuesday shared on social media a false claim by the president of an anti-immigrant hate group that immigrants are a huge economic burden to the public.
Tiffany, currently serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, shared a tweet posted on March 14 by the Twitter account of Washington Times Opinion that said: “Dan Stein: ‘In fact, for every dollar that the typical illegal alien contributes in taxes, they and their dependents cost the rest of us $6.'”
“President Biden’s failed immigration policies are costing American taxpayers billions,” Tiffany wrote.
Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has been designated an anti-immigration hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the SPLC, the organization has “one mission: to severely limit immigration into the United States.”
Founded in 1979 by the late John Tanton, a eugenicist who wanted to preserve “a European-American majority” in the United States, the tax-exempt group provides research, opinion pieces, and public testimony against illegal immigration and advocates for more restrictions on legal immigration. Former FAIR employees Julie Kirchner, Robert Law, Ian Smith and John Zadrozny all served in the Donald Trump administration, and former Trump aide Stephen Miller has a long history of citing the group in pushing his anti-immigrant agenda.
In 1997, according to the SPLC, Stein told the Wall Street Journal: “Immigrants don’t come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing … Many of them hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans.” He has repeatedly advocated for repeal of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which ended a racial quota system that had restricted immigration to the U.S. by non-Europeans.
Invoking the Great Replacement Theory, an antisemitic conspiracy theory that nonwhite people and religious minorities are being brought to the United States by those hoping to dilute the influence of white Christians, Stein has previously claimed immigrants use “competitive breeding” to undermine the power of white people, according to the SPLC. The conspiracy theory has driven much of recent right-wing violence nationally, including a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, last May; a 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; and the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue congregation shooting in Pittsburgh.
In an op-ed published in the Washington Times on March 11, Stein cites a studyby his own organization claiming that undocumented immigrants and their kids receive $182 billion a year in government services but pay only $32 billion in taxes.
However, a 2016 report by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project found that “Taxes paid by immigrants and their children—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the costs of the services they use.”
Many undocumented immigrants pay into programs like Social Security and Medicare, even though they cannot access those benefits.
In a December 2007 paper, the Congressional Budget Office noted that some “researchers estimate that between 50 percent and 75 percent of unauthorized immigrants pay federal, state, and local taxes.”
According to an analysis published in 2017 by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan think tank, they contribute more than $11 billion annually in state and local taxes alone.
While the Brookings report’s authors noted that children of immigrants, like all children, do cost the government more than they pay in the short term, they pay those funds back in taxes once they become adults:
Both the immigrant children and children of U.S.-born citizens are expensive when they are young because of the costs of investing in children’s education and health. Those expenses, however, are paid back through taxes received over a lifetime of work. The consensus of the economics literature is that the taxes paid by immigrants and their descendants exceed the benefits they receive—that on balance they are a net positive for the federal budget.
A cost estimate issued by the Congressional Budget Office in 2007 found that giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship would bring in $25 billion in added revenue and offset any new costs to the government for public services. Tiffany has opposed such a path and called it amnesty.
Overall, immigrant workers contributed an estimated $2 trillion to the gross domestic product of the United States between 2015 and 2016, according to data from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.