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As kos pointed  out a few weeks ago, support for a path to citizenship for unauthorized/undocumented immigrants rises if the question mentions paying a fine and back taxes.  As always, the devil is in the details, so what sort of fine makes sense?  This seems like a reasonable question to ask as the Senate takes up immigration reform.

The Gang of Eight proposal includes $500 up front plus another $2,000 over ten years.  I have seen people write that it should be more.  I have seen comments by Kossacks arguing that there should be no fine.

There are several considerations to be made in deciding the level of fine.  How easy do you want a path to citizenship to be?  There are those who will want the penalty to be large enough so that it feels like a sufficient punishment for law-breaking.  This may mean that you can trade a larger fine for compromises in other parts of an immigration reform bill.  How much does it cost to process and document previously undocumented immigration?  Should the government seek to use the fine to raise revenue for purposes such as increased border security?  Do you want to set the fine based on how many people are expected to apply, managing the growth citizen population through this process?

So, how large should a fine be as part of a path to citizenship in immigration reform?


How large should the fine be as part of a path to citizenship? (Pick the closest to your preference)

36%21 votes
8%5 votes
1%1 votes
12%7 votes
8%5 votes
15%9 votes
12%7 votes
3%2 votes

| 57 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  $0. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trueblueliberal, decembersue

    Undocumented immigrants have been a boost to our economy for a long, long time.

    Perhaps a refund is in order.

  •  The back taxes part is far more (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, dream weaver, sebastianguy99

    Given that a lot of the illegal immigrants have been living in the US for 5 years or more, they potentially owe a lot of back taxes. I think forcing them to pay their back taxes is more of a problem than the proposed fine.

    •  A shocking number will get... (4+ / 0-) refunds. Many illegal immigrants are eligible for subsidies, rebates, and tax credits that they never collect.

      But that's not the point. The damage that illegals cause is not that they consume services and don't pay taxes. That is not significant. The damage is that they take jobs away from unskilled Americans.

      Who is going to pay back those workers who were unemployed or who had their wages forced down?

      •  Correction, WOULD be eligible IF citizens. (0+ / 0-)

        What do you think the chances are that any final immigration legislation establishing a path to citizenship, would not EXPLICITLY nullify every conceivable route by which an immigrant might be entitled to any type of tax refund or credit?  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:00:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  During The Last Go Round (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          There was an amendment to the legislation which would prohibited illegal immigrants from claiming any benefits for Social Security that they paid on wages while they were in the country illegally.

          The amendment was tabled (killed).

          Diane Feinstein on the issues

          Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.

          Voting YEA would table (kill) the proposed amendment to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security benefits. Voting NAY supports that prohibition, while voting YEA supports immigrants participating in Social Security. Text of amendment:

          To reduce document fraud, prevent identity theft, and preserve the integrity of the Social Security system, by ensuring that persons who receive an adjustment of status under this bill are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.

          Proponents of the amendment say to vote NAY because:

          * The Immigration Reform bill would allow people to qualify for social security based on work they did while they were illegally present in the US and illegally working in the US.

          * People who broke the law to come here and broke the law to work here can benefit from their conduct to collect social security.

          * In some cases, illegal immigrants may have stolen an American citizen's identity. They may have stolen an American's social security number to fraudulently work. This amendment corrects this problem.
          Opponents of the amendment say to vote YEA because:

          * Americans understand that for years there are undocumented workers who have tried to follow our laws and be good neighbors and good citizens, and have paid into the Social Security Trust Fund.

          * Once that person regularizes his or her status, and as they proceed down the path to earned citizenship, they should have the benefit after having followed the law and made those contributions. That is fairness.

          * We should not steal their funds or empty their Social Security accounts. That is not fair. It does not reward their hard work or their financial contributions.

          * The amendment proposes to change existing law to prohibit an individual from gaining the benefit of any contributions made while the individual was in an undocumented status. I oppose this amendment and believe it is wrong.

          Which has always sort of blown away the argument that "they paid into Social Security but will never see any of the benefits, and I have always loved the wording on this "their Social Security accounts" ... Ummm ... oh hey.

          I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

          by superscalar on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:50:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The amendment was killed, right? (0+ / 0-)

            Plus no law passed, so whatever jockeying went on is sort of moot.  Plus I see a certain difference between payroll deductions made from actual earnings versus EIT which creates direct income subsidies for low-earning familes.  

            Not that there's any point in debating with someone whose views are as one-sided and fixed as I know yours to be.

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Mon May 06, 2013 at 01:02:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  A lot of illegals get paid under the table (0+ / 0-)

        There is no tax withholding to begin with. So these people can't get any refunds.

        As for EITC- the law explicitly says that you have to be either a citizen or green card holder to qualify.

        •  Ummm ... No (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Undocumented workers got billions from IRS in tax credits, audit finds 09/02/2011

          Although undocumented workers are not eligible for federal benefits, the report released Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration concludes that federal law is ambiguous on whether these workers qualify for a tax break based on earned income called the additional child tax credit.

          Taxpayers can claim this credit to reduce what they owe in taxes, often getting refunds from the government. The vagueness of federal law may have contributed to the $4.2 billion in credits, the report said.

          The IRS said it lacks the authority to disallow the claims.

          [ ... ]

          Wage earners who do not have Social Security numbers and are not authorized to work in the United States can use what the IRS calls individual taxpayer identification numbers. Often these result in fraudulent claims on tax returns, auditors found.

          Their data showed that 72 percent of returns filed with taxpayer identification numbers claimed the child tax credit.

          The audit recommended that the IRS seek clarification on the law and check the immigration status of filers with taxpayer indentificaion numbers.

          IRS officials, in response to a draft of the report, agreed to consult with the Treasury Department on the law. But they said they have no legal authority to demand that filers prove their legal status when the tax agency processes returns.

          This has been going on for years now.

          I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

          by superscalar on Mon May 06, 2013 at 01:50:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The point is that they take jobs from Americans (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Skilled, unskilled, whatever. |

        I am for jobs for Americans. I am a progressive. Progressives are NOT for cheap labor. If you are for illegals and cheap labor, you are not a progressive. You are a crap Democrat, in point of fact.

    •  Those Earning Enough To Owe Fed Income Taxes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trueblueliberal, lgmcp

      will have produced fake id and would have been paying payroll tax into SS, and employer would've been withholding fed taxes.

      Of course they'd have paid all their sales taxes and property taxes if they own houses.

      I would bet that the amount of back taxes is less than a lot of people think.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon May 06, 2013 at 11:47:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Size of penalty depends upon the barrier to future (0+ / 0-)

    inflows of undocumented immigrants.

    If the new barriers to future undocumented immigrants are high including the physical border; robust e-verify in employment, banking,  housing rentals, public assistance, etc., so that being a new undocumented immigrant is much harder than today, then the fine for current undocumented immigrants can be low.  Otherwise the fine needs to be high to discourage future undocumented immigration.

    If there were no fine and no increase in making it more difficult for future undocumented immigrants, we should expect a new large inflow of undocumented immigrants.

    An alternative approach for immigration reform would be to just have open borders between Mexico, Canada and the US so citizens of these countries could freely choose to live and work in any of these countries.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon May 06, 2013 at 11:22:58 AM PDT

    •  I don't see how the fine will serve as an (0+ / 0-)

      additional barrier. People mostly care about the ability to find a job that pays much better than in their home country. Fine will do nothing to change that calculation. Other factors that you list are much more important.

  •  What happens if they refuse to pay? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What'cha gonna do? Deport them?

    We will not deport them now, why should they think we will do so in the future?

    Will we suddenly crack down on employers who hire illegals? Will we kick illegals out of schools and refuse them medical care? No, we won't.

    Talking about a "fine" is a big joke. Illegals have already proven that they can flout our laws. Why should thy not keep the $10,000 and continue as they always have?

    The only ones who pay will be those that have been successful, or those that want to run for political office, or those that suddenly need Social Security or Medicare.

    I repeat my question: Whatcha gonna do if they don't pay the fine?

    •  The fine may end up being window dressing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Perhaps it will not really be that important in and of itself in the grand scheme of things, but will create political cover to allow Congress to vote for a comprehensive immigration reform package that addresses some of your other questions.

      •  Well, uh... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...I'm not sure how to say this, but I'm one of the people Congress will need "political cover" from.

        I'm against increasing immigration, and I'm not fooled by this fake fine.

        The effort to legalize large numbers of immigrants is a blatant attempt by the 1% to dilute the negotiating power of workers.

        It is sad that so many Progressives are blind to this fact. The 1% have been fighting to drive down wages for decades, and now we are going to help them do it.

        •  I am with you (0+ / 0-)

          I am a progressive, and progressives OPPOSE illegals, increased immigration, and the current insanity of the "Democratic" Party which puts illegals in front of US citizens.

          If I was a blue collar worker, there is NO FUCKING WAY I would vote Democratic. Democrats wonder where the working class went. The working class has long ago figured out that the Democrats are in favor of illegals and opposed to good wages for Americans.

          You can't have it both ways.

          •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

  's the Republicans who are in favor of illegal immigration.  They own the businesses that hire illegals.

            Republicans also favor more legal immigration, especially foreign college graduates who depress wages for American college grads.

            Obama has deported more than 1.5 million illegal immigrants. The corporate-controlled media doesn't talk much about it.

  •  None for Incomes Below 1.5x Poverty Level nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prinny Squad, trueblueliberal, lgmcp

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon May 06, 2013 at 11:45:15 AM PDT

  •  My opening offer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InfiniteThoughts, FG

    would be $0 to 500, my true preference would be modest, like $1-2000,  l, and I would accept, as compromise for a workable and not-too-otherwise heinous bill, maybe as high as $5-10K.  My understanding is that border-crossers sometimes pay similar sums to coyotes already.

    The diary asks, "how much does it cost to process and document previously undocumented immigration? " and this is an interesting question.  I am aware that immigrants already pay sales and other taxes from which they do not receive equal benefit.  But I don't think framing those earlier payments as adequate to cover the costs of processing, would enjoy much political success.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon May 06, 2013 at 11:57:00 AM PDT

    •  This cost has nothing to do with the fine. People (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      already pay hundreds of dollars for green card and citizenship applications. By law, these fees should cover the cost of processing. And they not only do that but a part of these money is used for other purposes.

      •  I doubt existing applications and processes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        will be used.  There would be special new ones that implement the particulars of new legislation (if produced).  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:48:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why not? Citizenship application is the same for (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          everyone. Many types of green card applications exist and new ones may be required if this bill passes. But it's a minor issue, costs of processing an application are likely to be about the same no matter what type of application is used.

  •  Zero (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dream weaver

    we invited them here. We said we didn't want to pay the going rate for meat processing restaurant services, landscaping, and agricultural services - the major areas which have driven illegal immigration. We said that over and over again, every time we shopped at companies that offered prices that in some cases are 20-30% lower than they would be if everyone involved was making Federal minimum.

    Long term, there is not so much of a threat of large scale illegal immigration anyway, as Mexico's baby boom is entirely over, and its economy and other factors is rapidly improving. That leaves non-Mexican immigration, which is more complex, but somewhat easier to control.

  •  The minimum fine should be $ 50.00 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, InfiniteThoughts

    with the remainder being income based up to a maximum fine of $ 10,000.00.  However, those who were brought here as a child should have to pay no fine because they didn't commit any crime by crossing the border; they had no choice in the matter.  Here would be my suggestion:

    If the applicant's Income up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines for an individual, the fine would be $ 50.00.

    If the applicant's Income is above 250% of the federal poverty guidelines for an individual, the fine would be $ 50.00 plus 3% of all gross income earned in excess of 150$ of the federal poverty guidelines for an individual during the income tax year prior to the applicant's application up to a maximum of fine of $ 10,000.00.

    We have nothing to fear but fear itself

    by bhouston79 on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:10:26 PM PDT

  •  This conversation seems strangely dispirited (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dream weaver

    with relatively few viewpoints mostly from habitual pro- and con- supporters.  Considering how much this will be in the news in months to come, I am surprised that a wider spectrum of kossacks aren't interested in weighting in.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:38:44 PM PDT

    •  I will say that it is dispiriting to engage in... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...a discussion where some folks are taking it upon themselves to use such disgusting epithets as "illegals" and "anchor babies" when describing our family and friends.

      It doesn't really create a welcoming environment for us to participate in rational discussion.

      I'm bowing out of this discussion because anything that I am likely to say at this point will probably result in my being banned.

      •  Yes, the hardcore nativists show up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dream weaver

        and dominate the conversation to the exclusion of all other shades of opinion.  But weary indifference is going to have to give way to engagement if Congress is really taking up the issue.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon May 06, 2013 at 01:37:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Punish those lawbreakers! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dream weaver

    I figure about $20 ought to do it.

    What the heck, better throw the book at 'em. Make it $50.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:50:49 PM PDT

  •  No Path to Citizenship (0+ / 0-)

    and no anchor baby citizenship. We have to protect American workers. I agree with sentiment up-thread that this serves corporations who want to dilute worker influence and depress wages.

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