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Helping the Economy
Hurting It

By Wendy Turgeon

Undocumented workers, are they helping the economy or hurting it?
This is a question many people want the answer too. Most of us watch the
news and know there is a lot of controversy over the immigrant reform
system, which allows parents of children born in the United States to stay
here and work towards citizenship. Throughout this paper I will be
focusing on a few different topics such as; how undocumented works
affect the economy, wages equality for undocumented workers, and work
environment for undocumented workers.

Many of us know the media can be a little ones sided when
reporting on controversial issues. Myself, like many of us that watch the
news think they are bringing us the majority of the information we need
to make an informed opinion about a subject. I found that this is not the
case when it comes to the subject of undocumented workers. I have never
seen a report on why there has been so many more immigrants migrating
to the United Sates. Through research I found that after the United States
sign NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in 1994 there was a
huge rise in immigrants migrating from Mexico to the United States and
has been steadily the same every years since 2000 (Batalova, 2015).
One of the reasons for this was the price paid to Mexican corn farmers fell
66% forcing farmworkers to migrate where they could find work (Smith,
2013). With the amount of undocumented workers coming to the United
States Americans worry about the economic future of the country.
There are many myths about undocumented workers and the effects
on the American economy. Many of us, myself included thought
undocumented workers dont pay taxes, but in fact 50% to 75% of the 11

million file and pay income taxes. In 2010 undocumented workers paid
$10.6 billion to state and local taxes (Santana, 2014). Social Security also
has gained from undocumented workers that are paying into a system
that they dont qualify for. Over the last decade its estimated that
undocumented workers have paid over $100 billion into Social Security
and without their contributions it would not be able to pay the promised
benefits after 2037 (Santana, 2014). In fact if all the undocumented
workers were made citizen the revenue from income and payroll taxes
would reduce the deficit by $175 billion the first 10 years and at least by
$700 billion over the next decade (Santana, 2014). This information got
my attention on how much the American economy depends on
undocumented workers.
Robert Lynch expressed his concern to the Huffington Post about
wage equality in an article posted in 2013 stating Unauthorized
immigrants are currently earning far less than their potential, paying
much less in taxes, and contributing significantly less to the U.S. economy
than they potentially could (Fairchild, 2013). Many undocumented
workers are being paid way below what the United States considers
poverty and the majority dont fight for higher wages in fear of
deportation, yet a lot of them go hungry because they do not qualify for
any government assistance. Many of the jobs undocumented workers hold
are lower skilled jobs and they are usually victims of wage discrimination,
not being paid at all and many times exploited for their labor. Employers
can get away with exploiting undocumented workers because theyre not
protected by many of the United States working laws.
The working environments that many undocumented workers
endure is harsh. The majority of undocumented workers reside in
California, Texas and Florida. These states supply the United States with
an abundance of produce such as; tomatoes, oranges and grapes. Many

of the undocumented workers that reside in these states are farmworkers

meaning they plant, maintain and harvest crops. Many of the women that
are farmworkers are victims of sexual harassment and sometimes
physical abuse. Some undocumented workers have also been victims of
slavery, being promised work, shelter and food and then having their
wages taken, chained up and sometimes beaten (Rawal, 2014).
Undocumented workers usually work 12 to 14 hour with very little breaks
throughout the day and make about $50 dollars a day which is about
$3.60 an hour (Rawal, 2014). They make such a little amount because
most undocumented workers that work on farms are paid per pound of
product they pick and many times dont get paid for the full amount they
Throughout my findings I have come to the conclusion that 1 the
media (watching the news) is not always a good source for information
and 2 that undocumented workers are helping the American economy by
paying into a system they do not qualify for and do not intend to benefit
from. I have also concluded that the American economy would benefit
greatly by making undocumented workers citizens by the added tax
revenue. My findings lead me to the conclusion that undocumented
workers are sometimes exploited for the labor and many times victims of
wage discrimination, harsh working environments and also abuse.
From my conclusions I recommend that the United States
government grant citizenship to undocumented workers who have lived in
the United Sates for at least 5 years, have a job and are following state
and federal laws. By doing so I feel that the American economy will grow
due to higher income and payroll tax revenue. I also recommend that

certain workers rights laws protect all human beings working in the
United States. In doing this employers that exploit employees will be held
accountable for their actions.

Works Cited
Batalova, J. Z. (2015, February 26). Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants
and Immigration in the United States.
Fairchild, C. (2013, March 22). Granting Undocumented Workers Citizenship Would
Boost Economy by 1.4 Trillion.
Rawal, S. (Director). (2014). Food Chain [Motion Picture].
Santana, M. (2014, November 20). 5 Immigration Myths Debunked.
Smith, Y. (2013, November 27). NAFTA Successfully Undermind Regulations .