Taxation Without Representation

by MATTIAS RAMOS

More than 3 million people paid their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer’s Number (in place of a Social Security Number) in 2010, totaling $1.8 billion in contributions from taxpayers who are unable to work legally.

Hidalgo’s parents got their green cards in 2010. But due to an unfair rule that disqualifies young people from a family’s permanent residency application if they turn 18 while they await the outcome, Hidalgo remains undocumented. This forced her to forego the opportunity to attend a top-tier state school, settling instead for the more affordable Polk State College. “It’s extremely frustrating,” she said. “Finding out I wasn’t able to get financial aid was heartbreaking.”

The government doesn’t give all immigrants an opportunity to adjust their status, but the taxman doesn’t discriminate. Hidalgo’s parents might have been undocumented, but they’ve also been Florida taxpayers for 21 years. In Florida, sales taxes fund the higher education system. Yet no amount of immigrant purchasing power has been enough to convince Florida legislators to allow immigrant youth to attend their public colleges as residents.

“It is a constant feeling of anxiety, having to live under this level of stress,” said Hidalgo, who belongs to the immigrant youth organization Students Working for Equal Rights.

Congress is likely to target families like the Hidalgos as it debates the 2013 budget. In December, the House of Representatives voted for a tax package that would effectively raise taxes on approximately 2 million working immigrant families like Mayra’s.

By denying them eligibility for the reimbursable Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), Congress claims to be discouraging illegal immigration. In reality, they would be punishing taxpaying immigrants and their kids.

State legislators around the nation have also claimed to defend the interests of taxpayers while promoting harsh immigration enforcement laws. Alabama’s so-called “Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” for example, is intended to make life so unbearable for undocumented immigrants that they choose to leave on their own. Similar laws are on the books in Utah, South Carolina, Indiana, and Georgia. Another is in the works in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is of two minds on this issue. The Justice Department has opted to sue states that have enacted these laws. But the Department of Homeland Security has beefed up enforcement and deported more people than ever. Even while acknowledging that the system is dysfunctional without a path to legal status for those already here, Obama has enforced the law to its fullest extent.

If immigration is the sincerest form of flattery, the nation’s politicians are showing they can’t take a compliment. But there’s something worse than a country anyone can enter to seek a better life. It’s a country where no one wants to go.

Matias Ramos is the 2011 Carol Jean and Edward F. Newman Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

This column is distributed by Other Words.

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire