Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I love all refugee children too but ... Part II

I love all refugee children but … Part II

[This article is a continuation of a previous post found at  <<http://lockwoodsaid.blogspot.com/2014/07/answer-to-comment-i-love-child-refugees.html>>]

What will it cost USA to welcome the refugee children who are fleeing a drug war (a war that some claim the United States caused)?


You probably would not believe it if I told you. Oh well, I might as well tell you anyway.

Exact analysis is difficult to achieve, especially as the target is a moving, squiggling animal, and there is no current consensus. Add to that, the fact that figures lie and liars figure.

However, this does not mean that there is no reliable information available: There is data. And as more and more scientific information becomes available about immigration, the thinking is starting to change concerning the true costs and benefits of hosting these new American residents. 

You may have read hysterical reports that focused on the supposed outlandish costs. Forget about those. They are mostly lies, misinformation, disinformation, rumors or poorly interpreted reports. 

I say that because the net effect of immigration has been positive to the tax coffers for decades: Every dollar you spend on a migrant child results in a positive net return to the United States. For evidence, please see the article: <http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2013/02/08/52377/immigrants-are-makers-not-takers/>

Here are some more of the questions I fielded from friends and acquaintances. 

Concerned Citizen's Paraphrased Question: "What about the short term costs?"

The ledger may turn out fine in the long run, "but what about now?” 

Or as one friend put it:  “Are you offering to pay 3 or 4 times your usual tax rate for the next 5 or 10 years until all these people get properly settled in and self-supporting?”  

My answer: “No, I am not going to pay your share of any costs incurred.”

Furthermore,  that is not a reasonable suggestion, in my opinion. The children are here. Deal with it!

On the other hand, neither your taxes nor mine will double, triple or quadruple as implied by the question. 

This may surprise some people, but there is no logical reason that your tax burden should change at all due to the influx of child refugees. I will come back to that later.

Likely Citizen's Question: "But what about the budget deficit?" 

Put differently, “Isn't the Obama Administration's budget driving the nation into bankruptcy?” 

My Answer: “The President's budget is not even close to bankrupting the nation.”

Your concerns about fiscal responsibility are well taken. Here is some information that you may not have heard: 

Over the past 50 years, budget deficits have averaged around 2.8 percent of the economy.

The president’s budget proposal for 2015 would run a deficit of $561 billion in 2015, and that’s equivalent to 3.1 percent of the U.S. economy, down from a high of 10 percent in 2009 following the Great Recession.  

In spite of two expensive wars (entered into recklessly and promoted by deceit, in my opinion) our deficit is only slightly above the 50 year average.

Unconvinced Citizen's Question (anticipated): "What about the financial cliff?" 

“What about the near default on government loans? Doesn't that prove you are wrong?”

No, it does not prove that at all. It is good to be skeptical and ask questions like this. Here again, is some additional information that should set your mind at ease:

The Nation's federal revenue exceeds $3 trillion, most of which is generated by taxes. Needless to say, that is a lot of money, and that does not include local and state taxes, which would raise the amount collected even more. In other words, there is lots and lots of money available. What we are really looking at are some issues of priority.

The entire budget for Welfare – federal, state and local as I understand it – is $500 billion! We have always had national debt. The so-called financial cliff was a manufactured crisis in an attempt by House Republicans to discredit the President. It was an insane gimmick by right-wingers, to put it bluntly. How can I put this nicely? I won't even try. It was a side show by right wing conservatives who threatened to dump the nation's economy rather than negotiate or compromise: A high-stakes game of "Chicken," that was appalling for men in such high positions of power. Well, I have said enough about that.

(http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/united_states_total_spending_pie_chart) 
So no, there is no way that these children are going to triple anyone's tax bill, as one commenter suggested: Not by even the wildest estimate.

Concerned Citizen Question: “Just who do you think will support these children?”

Answer: “The provision for children will likely be from a variety of sources.” 

For example, according to articles I have read, most of the children already have family members here  in the USA who plan to support them. That's why they are coming! Many of these immigrants likely will incure zero cost to government over time. In the short term there will not doubt be screening and induction costs and the need to plan for additional students in the school system. 

Of course, the more education these kids get, the higher their potential earnings (and the higher contributions to USA tax coffers) will be. Education is an investment in human assets that pays off handsomely.

Another Question that I rephrased:  “Are those who are so gun-ho about letting the child refugees enter the USA going to foot the bill?” 

Answer: "No, of course not."  

Local Citizen's Objection (Interpreted): "Welfare recipients will bear the brunt."

Put differently: “There are people already here who are suffering due to insufficient assistance: How can I in good faith agree to help you with that project?”

My Answer: Discovering these children is almost like finding a bird's nest on the ground. 

Given the likelihood is that, given proper care and nourishment, these these children and teens are most likely to become the strong, healthy individuals with a potential for lifetime contributions to society.  

Beyond the obvious need for physical laborers, these kids have sharp, observant young minds. We already have had immigrant families whose members became news reporters, lawyers, astronauts, customers, and more. Immigrants to date have been some of the hardest working, most productive employees. Many have become loyal military inductees, not to mention electronic engineers, teachers, software engineers and more. You and I now have a gift of unanticipated opportunity. What we do about it will determine the outcome. 

These children are really at test of American ideals. How we respond will create waves of  respect throughout the world. Or not. The choice is ours. 

Question: "But what if Frank Ellsworth Lockwood is wrong?" 

"What if there is, in fact a cost to admitting child refugees?

My Answer: "Even if I am wrong ..."

"Even if I am wrong, which I am not, accepting these children is a wise investment that will grow over time: Please read what the Cato Institute reported as follows:

The descendants of immigrants, when they are included, make a large and positive net fiscal contribution under net transfer models. The National Research Council’s net transfer analysis (1997: 297-362) analyzed the net present value fiscal impact of the immigrants themselves as well as the immigrants and their descendants for all levels of government in the United States. They found that a typical immigrant imposes a net fiscal cost of $3,000 himself but the descendants of the immigrant have a positive net fiscal contribution of $83,000 in present value, producing an $80,000 fiscal surplus (National Research Council 1997: 334). [Emphasis mine]



Concerned Citizen's Statement:  “Much as my heart breaks ...”

Much as my heart breaks for the children who want to come here because circumstances are better … circumstances will not be better here if we allow more people to live here than we can afford to support. 

My Answer: “This is one of my favorite questions, and one of the easiest to refute with facts.”

Nevertheless, that topic will have to wait for another post. 

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#childrefugees

About me, Frank Ellsworth Lockwood 
  • Retired public school resource room specialist 
  • Fifteen years direct experience working with immigrant children. 
  • Washington certified former public school teacher
  • Education MS in Education from Eastern Oregon State Universtity
  • Master's project topic: Reading styles of limited English proficient children

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