The lives of undocumented immigrants shouldn’t be measured by their taxes, but when Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant ilk continue to accuse them of being takers and moochers (maybe you’re thinking of your Environmental Protection Agency secretary, Donald), we’re gonna correct the record. With Tax Day approaching, what better time than now?
Immigrants who are authorized to work in the United States pay the same taxes as US citizens. And, contrary to the persistent myth, undocumented immigrants do in fact pay taxes too. Millions of undocumented immigrants file tax returns each year, and they are paying taxes for benefits they can’t even use.
According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay nearly $12 billion a year in state and local taxes, and pump billions in the Social Security Fund and Medicare—programs they’ll never be able to access unless their status changes:
A portion of the payroll tax withheld from undocumented immigrants — like all workers —goes to the retirement trust fund at the Social Security Administration. In 2013, the agency reviewed how much money undocumented workers contributed the retirement trust fund. The number was astonishing: $13 billion in one year.
“Filing taxes helps immigrants create a paper trail to show when they entered the country and how long they’ve been contributing tax dollars,” Vox reports. “Many are hoping it will help them get legal status one day. That has happened in past reform efforts, and one of the first requirements is usually to prove that a person has been paying taxes.”
“I am an undocumented immigrant,” Juan Escalante, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient wrote last year, “and unlike President Trump, I am willing to show my tax returns. Will the president of the United States of America demonstrate that he contributes his fair share just like undocumented immigrants like me?” Read more on how undocumented immigrants file their taxes here.