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America’s immigrants get the short end of the stick

Kimberly Rojas, Staff Writer

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There were 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the United States in 2014.

This number has been decreasing since 2009, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Almost two-thirds of these immigrants have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years, and yet they still deal with appalling working conditions and criminally low wages. And, due to the current anti-immigrant political climate, they are also discriminated against and criminalized.

Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants pay state and local taxes to the tune of $11.64 billion a year. And it is estimated that around 50 percent of undocumented immigrants file income taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number, according to a report written in Feb. 2016 from The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The ITEP is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that works on federal, state and local tax policy issues.

This same report also states that undocumented workers pay around 8 percent of their total income, while the top 1 percent paid only  around 5.4 percent.

From 2012 to 2013, the number of workplace-related fatalities increased to 7 percent for Hispanic workers, while the percentage decreased for workers of other nationalities to negative 22 percent, according to a report from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an organization dedicated to promoting safe and healthy working conditions for all working people through education, training, organizing and advocacy.

Many undocumented workers are exploited because of their status and their willingness to work long hours for low wages. Forty three percent of workers who filed a complaint to their employer or tried to join a union experienced one or more forms of illegal retaliation from their employer or supervisor, according to a survey administered by The National Employment Law project, an organization that fights for policies to create good jobs, expand access to work, and strengthen protections and support for low-wage workers and the unemployed.

These workers were fired, received or threatened with pay cuts or threatened with unemployment. Many undocumented workers also receive threats of deportation or calls to immigration authorities.

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A student news site of Columbia College
America’s immigrants get the short end of the stick