One Pagers

Immigrants: Makers, Not Takers

May 09, 2013 5:37 pm ET
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee began marking up the immigration reform bill with amendments as opponents continue to push a discredited Heritage Foundation report -- which has even been slammed by conservatives for assuming that immigrants on the road to citizenship will always be poor and dependent on government benefits while ignoring their contributions to economic growth. A co-author of the report is also taking heat for his past comments that Hispanic immigrants may never "reach IQ parity with whites." Here's how to bolster the economic-based pushback with values-based language.

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Saying that immigrants can only be dependent takers is an insult to the American Dream.

Connect: We need leaders fighting to make the American Dream possible for more Americans, not undermining it.

Define: Saying that immigrants can only be dependent freeloaders who will always take more than they contribute is insulting the American Dream.

Discredit: The Heritage Foundation report on immigrants assumes that aspiring citizens who start in poverty will always end in poverty and have children who stay in poverty -- no matter the opportunities to work hard and get ahead in America.

Debunk: Even conservative leaders agree that giving immigrants a real chance at earned citizenship is a net boost to our economy as they move into jobs paid on the books, start their own businesses, and pay taxes -- boosting American workers' incomes along the way.

Reaffirm: Creating a real road to citizenship instead of creating a second class of people does more than just reflect our values as Americans. It will pay off for the rest of us and the economy.


For more Attacks & Responses, click here.

ATTACK: "Citizenship for undocumented immigrants will be a net burden on Social Security."

  • The Social Security Administration reports that immigration reform with citizenship is a net plus for the Social Security system, boosting its finances by almost $300 billion over the long haul.
  • Many of these immigrants already pay nearly $15 billion in payroll taxes into Social Security each year, even though they cannot claim any benefits due to their undocumented status. The immigrant population is also very young and years away from retirement age.
  • As they move from the underground economy to jobs on the books, immigrants with legal status also pay higher taxes and earn higher incomes -- also making it harder for employers to undercut other workers' wages by exploiting cheap immigrant labor off the books.
  • A real immigration reform deal with a real road to citizenship isn't the threat to Social Security -- it's politicians who want to cut the Social Security income that our seniors have worked and paid for with each paycheck their working lives.

ATTACK: "Loading up immigration reform with LGBT issues will derail it."

  • New Americans who contribute to our communities, pledge allegiance to our country and want to add to America's greatness should be able to stay in America with their families. Legislation like the Uniting American Families Act would make that possible.
  • Family ties to your loved ones don't end at the water's edge. But right now, children from binational families face the very real chance that they may be separated from one parent or forced to leave the only country they know as home.
  • That's because federal law doesn't recognize married same-sex couples' marriages, meaning that they can't sponsor their family members for citizenship like other Americans can.
  • Our immigration laws should keep families together. It's not the American way to tear families apart or make families choose between staying together with some of their loved ones and leaving some behind.


  • Three out of four Americans, or nearly 75%, agree that immigrants in the country who meet certain requirements should have a way to stay legally.
  • The conservative organizations and leaders who have discredited the Heritage Foundation report include the Cato Institute; Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; the American Enterprise Institute; Doug Holtz-Eakin, prominent conservative economist and president of the American Action Forum; Haley Barbour, former RNC chairman and Mississippi governor; Sen. John McCain; Sen. Marco Rubio; and Rep. Paul Ryan.
  • Credible studies show that our immigration system is so dysfunctional now that by reforming it, we would generate over $1.4 trillion in economic growth and boost Americans' personal incomes by nearly $800 billion.
  • In fact, in recent years, the metropolitan areas with the fastest economic growth also had the greatest increases in immigrant workers.
  • Research clearly shows that immigrant workers help grow the economy overall, leading to lower unemployment and higher wages for those of us already here.
  • Even with highly skilled workers, higher immigration increases the demand for workers, stimulates investment, and promotes specialization for many workers already in the labor force.
  • In contrast, trying to round up and deport 11 million people would cost us a quarter of a trillion dollars and cost our economy billions.
 We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


Posted in - Economy - Seniors - LGBT - Immigration - Jobs

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