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Taxes, International Students Provide Positive Immigration News in Tough Times

Right now, much of the media attention is understandably on the Trump Administration’s "efforts" to reunite children five and under with their parents (including this revelation that the government may have separated a U.S. citizen from his toddler-age child), and its (unsuccessful) attempt to circumvent Flores. Still, flickers of information are getting into the world that counter the administration’s immigrant narrative. 

In June, the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration held a hearing on “Student Visa Integrity,” with senators on both sides of the aisle embracing international students. Republican John Cornyn of Texas said, “I am not interested in restricting student visas… I have long been an advocate for expanding H-1B visas and other visas for foreign students,” and made explicit his support for international students at American institutes of higher learning, saying that he considers the universities and colleges the “crown jewels” of what America can offer the world. 

In April, the American Immigration Council (AIC) added an economic counter to the anti-immigrant narrative by pointing out that undocumented immigrants pay taxes. In 2014—the most recent year for which Census data is available—they paid an estimated $11.7 billion in state and local taxes combined. They are unable to receive the benefits from many of the tax dollars paid, but because tax filings help to establish a paper trail of the length of their stay in the U.S., they pay them. AIC estimates that the undocumented population’s contribution would be more than $2 million more if the workers had legal status. 

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