A new report developed, in part, by a group that works with immigrants concludes illegal immigrants are not the drain on society that critics claim. Eddie Mauro is with "A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy" — a group that calls itself AMOS — and he believes this will be "shocking" to many.
"A lot of people, average Iowans, do believe that…this population uses a lot more services than they contribute and a lot of people will get to see that that’s not necessarily the case because of this great report," he says. There are up to 85,000 undocumented immigrants in Iowa according to estimates quoted in the report from the Iowa Policy Project and its partners.
The report concludes those illegal immigrants are paying up to 62 million dollars in state taxes each year. At least half, and perhaps more, are using someone else’s Social Security number at their worksite and that means they’re paying federal taxes, too, according to Mike Sheehan, a former University of Iowa professor who is one of the report’s authors.
"We can say it’s unfortunate that they’re doing it because it’s illegal," he says. "On the other hand, it does provide a vehicle for making substantial tax payments into the system which, at least on the federal level, they have no hope of getting back."
Iowa Policy Project director David Osterberg says the study found illegal immigrants pay — on average — about 80 percent of the taxes a legal citizen pays, but they are eligible for few government services.
"We find a lot of taxes being paid by undocumented people, not very many services being available to them and when you look at them compared to legal people…we would find that they aren’t really taking in the sense that many people think that’s going on," Osterberg says. According to research cited in this report, between 30 and 39 percent of Iowa’s "foreign born" residents are illegal immigrants.