By in Politics

Undocumented Immigrants -- Let's Separate Fact From Fiction

No matter what term you use to describe the people who have immigrated to the United States other than through legitimate channels, this is an emotionally-charged topic for politicians and the general public alike.

This means a lot of people are talking about the pros and cons of such ideas as the type of amnesty President Obama proposed: "We’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve with been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or [legal] residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation,” he said. “You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”" (; Karen Tumulty, November 25, 2014 )

This plan has been put on hold by the judiciary system, but its ideas and proposals remain hot topics for all political parties, left and right wing.

I think it's important to talk about such issues, not to the point of argument, but with one side listening and working to understand the other side and vice versa. To be a valid discussion, both sides need to understand and represent the facts about which they speak, not the rhetoric of talking heads or representing misconceptions as fact.

Under the president's proposal, illegal immigrants to the U.S. who meet the criteria he as set forth would, indeed, be eligible to receive Social Security and Medicare -- BUT -- only if they've paid into the system just as any other worker would be. Any benefits from the two programs received in the future would be based on the same criteria that U.S. citizens must meet.

The proposal, should it be enacted as outlined by the president, would not give this same group of people access to other government programs, such as financial aid for school, food stamps or even the ability to buy health care insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Undoubtedly, this is a topic that will be discussed frequently; hopefully it will be discussed with the facts rather than the fiction.

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Image Credit » by DWilliams

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Ellis wrote on August 3, 2015, 4:03 PM

How are they going to pass a criminal test when by the very nature of entering a country they have committed an offence?

JohnRoberts wrote on August 3, 2015, 4:34 PM

Point well taken. The term "illegal" means just that. An illegal immigrant has broken the law so is this offense to be excused and forgiven because they are "poor good" people? If you believe that, then why bother to have such a law on the books and have the borders be an open free for all. If they are to be given amnesty, then how about everyone in trouble with the IRS for breaking tax laws be given amnesty? Those failing to pay ticket fines being given amnesty? Many "poor good" people have to follow laws and pay taxes and ticket fines etc. Why are immigrants an exception to law and not them?

MegL wrote on August 3, 2015, 6:05 PM

Facts are important. Too many people use their prejudices to find only the "facts" that support what they WANT!.

Feisty56 wrote on August 3, 2015, 6:48 PM

I can't think of anyone who would agree that anyone, no matter their status as citizen or not, should receive Social Security benefits or Medicare if they didn't pay into the system and qualify by the same standards all of us must meet. But that's the thing -- in order to receive those benefits, the people who receive the amnesty would have to pay in, just like the rest of us.

No one seems to know the exact numbers, but economist Robert Shapiro (quoted in the Washington Post link in article) thinks there's a chance that allowing these people to begin paying into the Social Security system would actually be a boon to the system and help to stem some of the predicted shortfalls in the near future.

Feisty56 wrote on August 3, 2015, 6:52 PM

I think in this age mega-information, so many of us are over-loaded with various concerns. Sound bites stick with us, even if we aren't always conscious of that. Headlines grab our attention, but maybe we don't have time to read much past that -- I know that happens to me at times.

Someone in my family is very under-informed about the facts, but that doesn't prevent that person from having a loud voice about this issue. I originally researched this information so I could provide facts, rather than a merely emotional stance.

Feisty56 wrote on August 3, 2015, 6:55 PM

I believe you and JohnRoberts have valid concerns in this area. The criminal background checks would be for any type of crime minus illegal immigration, because that's what the amnesty is for. There are concerns that at least some of those who come to the U.S. illegally were criminals in their home nation. The criminal background checks are in answer to those concerns.

Feisty56 wrote on August 3, 2015, 7:00 PM

I understand and feel your frustration about the "poor good" in the U.S. That situation is so huge it will take much more than an amnesty program to put things right -- like having no single child being hungry.

I wrote this post, truly not to praise or oppose amnesty, but in the hopes of providing information that is factual. I'm not suggesting the people who entered the U.S. illegally didn't break a law, but Obama's proposal says that we as a nation are willing to forgive that trespass, based on the conditions he set forth.

Feisty56 wrote on August 3, 2015, 8:05 PM

I say let's start with the incompetent people in all levels of government. There's no accountability for those who don't do their jobs -- like the immigration bureau that somehow missed millions upon millions of people entering the country illegally.

AliCanary wrote on August 3, 2015, 8:41 PM

My husband is an immigrant, but he did it legally. People who do it illegally should be deported. If they are fleeing a country for their safety, they can apply for refugee status. I'm not hard-hearted; just follow the damn rules, is all I say.

Feisty56 wrote on August 3, 2015, 9:12 PM

It's interesting to get the perspective from someone such as yourself who has personal knowledge of the system and knows someone who has gone through all the hoops to immigrate legally.

I don't know if this makes illegal status more or less acceptable, but according to the Department of Homeland Security, anywhere from one third to one half of the undocumented immigrants are people who have overstayed their original visas. I'm not suggesting that those who overstayed aren't culpable, but just where the department of immigration when these millions of visas over the years expired? (Link to statistics:

Paulie wrote on August 4, 2015, 1:18 AM

Iagree that it is important to separate fact from fiction when discussing undocumented immigrants. Thanks for sharing this post.

bestwriter wrote on August 4, 2015, 4:57 AM

We have a move here to regularise government land occupied illegally.

AliCanary wrote on August 4, 2015, 10:21 AM

Yep, that's how the Europeans do it, lol. Hispanic people end up being the target of outrage because Americans are snobbish and could never imagine that their Irish or Norwegian neighbors could be undocumented--they just don't fit the stereotypical picture of what the term "illegals" conjures up.

cmoneyspinner wrote on August 4, 2015, 11:04 AM

When another human being is in pain, it's just common decency to concern yourself with their plight. After all … suppose it was you? Wouldn't you want someone to care? This is the crux of the immigration matter. It's why mothers are willing to send their children alone across a border. You can't ignore the discussion. This problem is not going away. It has to be dealt it. There has to be a RIGHT WAY to deal with it.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 11:06 AM

America and its issues with color...and stereotypes. Ugh! And the nation's holier than thou attitude toward other nations in the world, when we have so many issues of our own.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 11:10 AM

I don't know of an issue, large or small, that doesn't have its own misdirection and misinformation from all sides. Elected officials all too often appeal to the emotions of the public with an issue, trying to sway opinions in their direction. I don't feel as if I can form an opinion without knowing basic facts -- and for that, some research is generally needed.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 11:15 AM

I realize there are many countries throughout the world that are dealing with the issue of undocumented immigrants. So many people are looking for somewhere safe to live, somewhere where there are opportunities, or just somewhere where bombs aren't dropping or mass murder is taking place. The countries to which these people flee have concerns of their own, and rightfully so. A very delicate balance where human beings are concerned on both sides.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 11:21 AM

You're right, of course. When discussions concern only statistics, it is easy to forget that those numbers represent real human beings. The difficulty seems to lie in that each side has its own definition of what the "right" thing to do is, thus the stand still on yet another important issue.

And while the politicians are playing to our emotions both pro and con, I don't think we can overlook the fact that each party stands to gain or lose politically depending on whether the undocumented immigrants are allowed to stay or be deported.

WordChazer wrote on August 4, 2015, 12:39 PM

Funnily enough we are having the same discussion here in the UK about the migrants who are waiting at Calais to enter this country in the back of lorries. If they were asylum seekers or genuine refugees, the argument goes, they would be applying through the proper channels and not desperately trying to cling onto moving HGVs/semis. The deputy mayor of Calais is blaming the UK for being a place where it is easy for these people to disappear, because we have no ID cards and (apparently) a fairly generous benefits system. I've never thought of it as generous, but then again, I rarely manage to claim successfully, because apparently I am not poor enough. The black market I'll give you is probably bigger here than I realise, but then again, I guess the same could be true in the US, because these guys manage to live, thrive and survive when they come over the border.

Holes in the comments by M le sous-maire are caused by the fact that the US already has an ID card system AND a much more rigorous way of tying that to any claims on the state, yet STILL you have the situation mentioned in your post.

GemOfAGirl wrote on August 4, 2015, 1:06 PM

I tend to be liberal on most issues, but I lean more to the middle, or maybe even slightly right of the middle, when it comes to immigration. It's not that I'm hard-hearted - those seeking asylum should be able to more easily apply for refugee status. It's just that in my "real" career, I've seen how identity theft affects victims. Any time someone uses someone else's Social Security number to get a job or do anything else, it has an adverse effect on the credit report of the person whose number they're using, and current privacy laws make it almost impossible to pursue and prosecute someone for that, so the victim is left with a giant mess on their hands and a Mount Everest of obstacles in front of them. The current laws definitely need to be changed.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 2:03 PM

I have been reading about that immigration situation in the UK. Evidently landlords will be prevented from renting to undocumented immigrants and will now need to evict those that Home Office determines are in the country unlawfully. Government officials seem optimistic this will discourage others from coming and somehow encourage the undocumented folks to leave the country. It seems to me it was just make the homeless population even larger and with more issues than ever, but maybe there is a plan for that, too.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 2:40 PM

The identity theft that you refer to is being committed by undocumented immigrants, I'm assuming? I'm not familiar with the statistics about the people who perpetrate identity theft, but now will have to learn more -- thank you for bringing this to my attention.

poddys wrote on August 4, 2015, 4:46 PM

There would be no Republicans left in Congress if we did.

GemOfAGirl wrote on August 4, 2015, 10:42 PM

Yes, it's done by those who are either undocumented, or by those whose documentation doesn't allow them to hold a job in the U.S. Since the days of the Reagan administration's amnesty program, a Federal form I-9 is required to be filled out when an employer hires someone in the United States, and one of the items required for that form is a Social Security card. Fake Social Security cards are very common in the undocumented community because even if someone manages to evade Border Patrol, they still need to earn money to put food on the table and pay the rent.

Feisty56 wrote on August 4, 2015, 11:55 PM

Hi poddys ! Long time no see. I think there are more than a few people who agree with you. : )

Feisty56 wrote on August 5, 2015, 12:00 AM

I would think then that the president's proposal to allow the undocumented workers who receive amnesty to take part in Social Security by having it withdrawn from their wages, like the rest of us, would help alleviate the need for identity theft. What are your thoughts on this?

Shellyann36 wrote on August 5, 2015, 10:28 AM

This is such a touchy subject. I have seen both sides. I have seen illegal aliens that are rowdy and disruptive and break every law they can even causing bodily harm. I have seen the opposite side of people just wanting a better life. I have also seen the clerical, human resources side of it as well.

Feisty56 wrote on August 5, 2015, 10:57 AM

There are many facets to the issue, which adds to the complexity of finding the best overall ethical solution. I feel as if the more I learn and observe, the better able I am to stand back and develop my opinion on the issue.

GemOfAGirl wrote on August 5, 2015, 11:23 AM

I think there's more than ample reasons to expand the guest worker program, but I have a bit of trouble with the concept of amnesty - I.D. theft is not a victimless crime, and people whose Social Security numbers were used by others get hurt by it for many years afterwards. I have trouble with the idea that the victims lives get ruined without any consequences to those who have perpetrated that. I might think differently if there were some sort of restitution built into it, but then it wouldn't really be an "amnesty" program. Stuff that shows up on credit reports affect everything in peoples' lives now (which I also think is wrong, but hey, no one in authority listens to my views about that, either) - your ability to get a job, your ability to get a loan for buying a house or a car or even a credit card, the amount you pay for your car insurance (or even if you can GET car insurance), your ability to rent an's neverending. (Of course, all of this bias on my part comes from 20+ years of working in the financial services industry.)

WordChazer wrote on August 5, 2015, 2:08 PM

The evicted will just disappear through the cracks, no matter what nationality they are.

Despite financial struggles of our own at the time, we helped a long term friend of mine when she was homeless a few years ago. She had no family available to help, her marriage had broken up, he'd won the house in the settlement and she was left with her cat and a few possessions. Fortunately for her she is one of these people who has a real network of friends. One couple took her possessions into storage, another offered to look after her cat, we looked after her for Christmas and New Year - and hosted her cat as well - and it was one of the BEST Christmasses we have ever spent. She is now back on her feet and loving life, after finding first a helpful landlady and then a job that she enjoys.

If her friends hadn't rallied around to help her she would have fallen through the cracks just like many others in her situation. I can't think that many migrants would have that level of support network here in the UK already. If they did, they would have called upon it before, instead of coming in illegally, surely?

Feisty56 wrote on August 5, 2015, 4:15 PM

I agree with you -- identity theft is a serious crime and issue. I had no idea that the perpetrators are rarely caught and held responsible. Surely there is a trail left behind that would lead to the thief?

If you've not already written posts about your firsthand knowledge of the ravages of identity theft, I think it would be a topic that would interest many.

CoralLevang wrote on August 5, 2015, 4:54 PM

The Democrats in Congress are equally as incompetent/problematic. Come to think of it, look outside of that political machine, and you'll find the same.

CoralLevang wrote on August 5, 2015, 4:59 PM

It's not the Norwegians and Irish that are coming in droves to this country. emoticon :winking: But it's not only Hispanics. Some of our European countries are now having their own issues with illegal immigrants now that the global climate is taking a major turn.

AliCanary wrote on August 5, 2015, 6:17 PM

My Irish ancestors came in with the "droves", and the Irish were looked upon with the same disdain. It would be kinda crappy for us to do the same to others, and yet...

Shellyann36 wrote on August 5, 2015, 6:41 PM

No matter what the final decision is, not everyone is going to be happy about it. I do hope that some sort of meeting in the middle ground can be found.

GemOfAGirl wrote on August 5, 2015, 7:13 PM

Privacy laws get in the way. Unfortunately, they protect criminals, too.

I've often thought of written something about I.D. theft, but every approach I've ever thought of would make the article far too long - my articles already run pretty long, and I know I'd lose a lot of readers by making them even longer.

Feisty56 wrote on August 5, 2015, 9:50 PM

It's up to you, of course. If you can think of a way to write several articles, each on one aspect, that would help the length. I only suggest not to make it Part 1, Part 2, etc, but individual posts that can stand on their own.

lexiconlover wrote on September 30, 2015, 2:11 PM

I feel like this should get more coverage than it does. There are valid concerns when this comes up. But there are also a lot of things that are glossed over. I think that there needs to be a protocol that is fair to both sides. If possible.