The presidential election is one day away, and much misinformation about the immigrant community and the candidates that in some way support it remain. Let’s start by clarifying that we are not a community of rapists, thieves, or killers. We are in fact a multitude of peoples with distinct cultural values and backgrounds, who for the most part stay out trouble and work hard for our families and our fellow neighbors.
Our community is humble, and it is precisely for that reason that it is often used as a scapegoat by weak politicians who would otherwise not be able to mount credible campaigns. Indeed, they paint us as takers who enjoy services such as welfare and free education, among others, without paying taxes. They will even go as far as to accuse candidates and elected officials who support our community of plotting to make us eligible to vote. Absolutely none of those things are true. To begin, taxes are perhaps the most inescapable component of living in the United States. We all pay taxes: when we pay the rent, our landlords factor the property taxes they must pay into our rent fee; most goods we purchase are taxed; a great percentage of the immigrant workforce pay income taxes via social security numbers for those who are DACA Eligbile, or ITN numbers. In New York alone, undocumented immigrants pay over one billion dollars into the system, and in the country, that figure stands around 12 billion. A great percentage of the taxes we pay fund social security and other services indispensable to millions of U.S. citizens., none of which we get back.
What’s sad to see is that these weak politicians will paint our community in such a negative way when their very constituents benefit from our presence here. What’s more, they scream bloody murder whenever a pragmatic representative recognizes our contributions and proposes aiding our community by supporting programs and bills essential to our community’s well being. Take for example the Dream Act. The New York State Assembly has passed the Dream Act several years but the bill has never become a reality because the New York State Senate has failed to pass it due to Long Island Senators spreading false information that it would unfairly burden New York State taxpayers. Now that we have candidates willing to support the Dream Act, our opponents have used this legislation, which has the quality of life of our young people in its hands, as a divisive tool for to increase anti-immigrant sentiment among voters on Long Island. New York DREAM Act, a legislation that will cost the average tax payer 87 cents a year, will simply allow immigrant children to have the equal access to financial aid along their peers. It will not take away financial aid from citizens, and it is certainly not free tuition. It simply means, all residents of New York State who make under $80,000 a year will qualify for financial aid- citizen and non-citizen alike.
New York has over the centuries embraced waves of immigrants seeking a better life. They’ve all gone through a long process in order to obtain the rights and privileges they now possess. We are no different. A recent Newsday Article showed that Long Island leads in economic contributions by immigrantsm, and that one in three children on Long Island come from an immigrant household. Candidates who support the New York DREAM Act know that having more college educated workers means a more prosperous Long Island. We ask for voters to go to the polls and vote with our youth and prosperity in mind, and not with sensationalized fear.
The Long Island DREAM Act Coalition