Debunked: 4 myths about undocumented residents

I believe in open borders. And by that, I mean that people should be free to enter into any country they want. Governments seem intent on advocating for free trade, which gives inanimate objects more freedom than people have.

As you can imagine, a lot of people disagree with me. And as I’ve discussed this issue with others, I’ve noticed 4 common arguments in favour of border control.

Myth #1: Undocumented residents steal jobs

One argument is that undocumented residents take jobs away from people who were born in the country. This doesn’t even make sense.

People who immigrate to a country increase jobs, regardless of whether they have documentation. People consume, and increased consumption increases demand, which leads to increased production: more jobs.

Undocumented residents buy food. They buy clothes. They buy gas. All of which require jobs.

They live in houses, which must be built. They use schools, which must be built and staffed. They use clinics and hospitals, libraries and pools, roads and buses, all of which require jobs.

Undocumented residents don’t steal jobs; they create them.

Myth #2: Undocumented residents are a tax burden

Ironically, another rationalization people use to advocate for stricter border control is that undocumented residents are a burden on the tax system. They claim that these residents don’t pay taxes and live off government welfare.

Undocumented residents contribute to the economy, so they help create revenue for the government. They pay taxes every time they purchase something that has a sales tax attached to it. And, of course, undocumented residents work; if they didn’t, people wouldn’t claim they stole jobs. You can’t steal jobs while also not working.

And even if we assume they don’t pay payroll taxes and deductions, that’s because the system is set up to discourage them from paying them and their employers from deducting them. If undocumented residents were able to get a social insurance number (or a social security number in the States), then this aspect wouldn’t be an issue.

Myth #3: Undocumented residents keep wages low

A third argument pro-border people use is that undocumented workers keep wages low.

Except it’s not the workers keeping wages low; it’s the business owners employing them. And they do it because they know they won’t complain about the low wages, for fear of deportation.

If all residents, regardless of documentation, could get paid the same, could pay the same deductions, and could enjoy the same benefits, wages wouldn’t stay low. Business owners hire undocumented workers on purpose. Go after them, not the people trying to eke out a loving.

Myth #4: Undocumented residents increase crime

Finally, another common argument I see is that undocumented residents will raise the crime rate. This is just false.

The vast majority of crime committed in Canada is by people born in Canada; immigrants are seriously underrepresented in Canadian prisons. In addition, as Canada’s immigration rate has been rising over the last few decades, the crime rate has been dropping. In fact, the longer immigrants live in Canada, the lower the crime rate becomes where they live.

If you’re so worried about crime rates, then kick out the people who are born here; they’re the ones who commit most of the crime.

People who have recently moved here are too busy working, paying taxes, and supporting their families to have the time and resources to commit crime.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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