An Economist Who “Gets” Immigration

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Earlier today I came across a blog about immigration written by an economist, and knowing the typical economist’s position on immigration my first reaction was, “here we go again.” But, I was pleasantly surprised to read this entry by Mark Thoma from the University of Oregon and he actually has something intelligent and rational to say.

Professor Thoma is rebutting an article that appeared on the Atlantic site (which itself is relying on the economic doom and gloom spin by Alabama businesses). About halfway down the post Mr. Thoma begins his rebuttal which plainly reminds employers complaining that they can’t find workers that they aren’t immune from the free market. Employers always have the option of raising wages to attract more workers, something they seem to have forgotten. Mr. Thoma very eloquently says that:

[B]usiness owners will complain, of course, that if they pay the wages needed to attract Americans to these jobs — basically to keep them out of soup kitchens — then they won’t be able to make a profit. That may or may not be true, but assume it is. What does it really mean? It means that the product they are selling is not viable unless people are forced by their circumstances to work at wages below what would be acceptable if even the barest of social services were available.

You can read the rest of this excellent blog at Economist’s View, and it’s well worth the time.

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Karl joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1998. He maintains and evaluates FAIR's website and manages E-Mail traffic. Karl offers a mixture of technical and issue related knowledge. As technology changes Karl helps FAIR remain ahead of the curve.

18 Comments

  1. avatar

    Some say without illegals we’d be paying $10 per head of lettuce. Studies have shown American labor would only raise the price per family $1-2 / mo. Consider farmers get a small percentage of the grocery gross price. Farm labor gets a small piece of that. Then on the other hand maybe we are paying $10 per head NOW. Someone needs to pull together all the subsidies going to the illegals & farmers. Per below the government, I’m sorry I mean you, are building retirement housing (one complex manager said they had BMW’s pull up and ask about vacancies), and funding van pools to the fields. No contributions from the AG industry. About BMW’s and subsidized housing: I vote at a subsidized housing site, and surprise , surprise I’ve seen a tenant’s garage with a 40k BMW SUV, and someone else is driving a Lincoln Navigator. I understand, though… need cheap housing if you ride in high style. How about “ventanas a la salud”/the consulates window to tell you how to game the health care system. What else is there we don’t know about???

    **********************************************************************************************************************
    http://www.npr.org/news/specials/housingfirst/nprstories/030607.migrant/index.html
    But now, at least a few seniors who’ve spent their working lives in the fields have a comfortable and affordable new community of their own — Desert Gardens, one of the first retirement complexes designed specifically for retired farm workers.

    “The red tile roofs and beige stucco make the place look like an upscale condo development, not subsidized housing for some of the poorest people in America,” Jaffe says.

    John Mealey, the head of the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition which developed Desert Gardens, says the coalition recently began to build smaller apartments for retirement-age farm workers, and appeal was immediate

    ***************************************
    http://www.saveourstate.info/showthread.php?t=3642

    I couldn’t believe what I heard at the city council meeting last night. The taxpayers are paying for illegals to have their own transportation system. Federal grants were given to supply large vans that the illegals drive (if they can supply a drivers license, which some manage to get) and the illegals only pay for the mileage. The program is called Kart Farmworkers Project, Agricultural Industries Transportation Services. Their site is a PDF but quite interesting. Is there anything that the taxpayer isn’t paying for when it comes to illegals? We pay for their housing, child care, medical, legal, food stamps, wic and every other possible cost of having them here. But now we supply them with their own private transportation.

    A description of the van is: All vans are late-model GMC Savanas 15 passenger equipped with air conditioning and CD players.Vans for agricultural workers are also equipped with water receivers, trailer hitch, fire extinguishers and first aid kits. They include 24-7 road side assistance, gas and maintenance, no credit check is required and $10 million in liability insurance. How’s that for a perk?

  2. avatar

    RE farm labor –
    SFGATE / the San Francisco Chronicle had an article on farm labor with comments by actual farmers using AMERICAN labor. They got them via Craigslist – said it was no problem…

    For people who say Americans won’t work in the hot sun … one farmer said he started his crews at 4 am and quit at noon, and things worked fine.

  3. avatar

    I keep hearing the statement that americans won’t do the manual labor of farmwork. well I’ve been trying to search out the manual labor jobs on the internet but every site i go to doesn’t actually post the manual labor jobs, they’re all ads for farm managers accountants agricultural techs. etc. where do I go to find manual labor farm jobs? Americans don’t answer ads that aren’t posted. The truth is these farm owners don’t want American employees as it’s easier to hire the illegals as you can pay lower wages not have to worry about insurances etc. where if they hire American citizens they would be liable if someone gets hurt with illegals who’s going to report an accident then get deported?

  4. avatar

    you should all ready know the Supreme Court decision on Obama care and immigration as he has stacked the Supreme Court in his favor

  5. avatar

    WHO IS BUILDING THE LA RAZA WELFARE STATE IN OUR BORDERS while you were not looking….

    MEXICANOCCUPATION.blogspot.com will be profiling some of the RACIST MEXICAN SUPREMACIST in Congress. Go to the blog and do a search for “SPOTLIGHT”.
    *
    LA RAZA PARTY CONGRESSMAN FOR THE 43 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT – UNDER LA RAZA OCCUPATION.
    *
    United we become solidified, united we make a difference, united we make the changes, united Latinos will win throughout California, let’s stick together, que si se puede, que no? (it can be done, right?)
    *
    http://mexicanoccupation.blogspot.com/2011/11/rep-joe-baca-spotlight-on-la-raza.html

  6. avatar

    Our government should enforce all existing immigration laws, including E-Verify. We have two groups in the country that could fill all avaliable jobs. 1) Military veterans. 2) Physically and mentally abled citizens who currently receive govenment subsides should be required to accept avaliable job or loose their benefits.

    The immigration problem is not at our borders. It’s in Washington D.C. and the Courts through out the country.

    • avatar

      That is 20 -20 accurate. We need PRINCIPALED leadership in the HOUSE, the Senate and the White House.

      When both parties push for lower tax backets but eliminate ALL deductions for folks making more than $174,400 (Congress’s average pay scale) it sends a clear message.

    • avatar
      Stuart Smetters on

      Apparently you havent left the confines of your office, filled with illegal secretaries, and other personal hired soon after they crossed over to our country.
      First: For the last 10 years, I have repeatedly been refused position after position as a result of being born in the wrong country (The United States) and of the wrong nationality (American). If you, like so many others, require that I redefine my nationality, please note I have over 42 different nationalities in my ancestry including 2 American Indians so if you dont mind, which do you require I claim?

      I place an adverage of 20-25 applications per week with multiple employers while that which was my career choice (chef) absolutely closed because as an American I supposedly dont want to work (while the proper term is ‘I dont want to work for free).

      As an American I have expenses those illegals dont, for example because I obey laws (notice the difference already.. I OBEY, I’m NOT ILLEGAL) I have higher rent to pay (I dont spread disease by cramming 15 familys into a house), I have Illegal car insurance (illegal as the real purpose of paying on a pre-declaration of guilt is for the purpose of supporting canidates whom I object to therefore denied fair rights to support or not support canidates to whom I want or dont want… I usually prefer independants, oops they dont receive any support now, do they?). These auto insurance also use these illegal taxes and grants to violate US Laws by using private info to bypass privacy laws, bank protections, etc and open businesses that also refuse to hire Any And ALL MEN of AMERICAN HERITAGE between 35 years of age and 60 as there is no Government Grants to be received on top of the Grants forcefully taken from the same they refuse to hire (Are you aware that federal laws prohibit any business from receiving a penny in any form of grant, government or private using the grants for tax evasion for any porpose…. hmm misappropiations of funds?). Given your excuse (more money for American Personel?) means that all such businesses now discriminate not only against American Men in the hiring process, but against illegals and all women as they refuse to pay them that which would be required to hire American (men, white or black). This means that all businesses (at lease around here) owe any and all employees already hired equal to that which they have already paid plus more to those refused since 1997 to the present (WOW.. AN ATTORNEY’S DREAM). Actual damage being approximately 65 quad zillion (or $65,000,000,000,000,000) plus punitive damages and that’s just here in the 5 county area of Illinois (hmmm, ? the back taxes on that, plus the repairs to the mortage industry).
      Just think of all the repairs that can come from such an lawsuit (and the 10% lawer fees?)
      Maybe the thinkers in the House and Senate should start by requiring criminal charges and lawsuits against member of congress who practise conflict of interest (You know, voting on such issues when they themselves are the priciple participants in hiring illegals either directly in private practise, business, etc or indirectly profiting from such actions (stock in companies that profit from hiring illegals and discriminating, Sears, Kmart, JC Pennys, Macys, Target, Walmart, Sams Clubs, etc) and or receive campaign funding from such businesses corporate or private who either practice in illegal competition (nearly al especially insurance). Interesting eh (any representatives left who didnt profit from Illegalities).
      I personally think that is the place to actually start, Clean House (and Senate) (and that White one).
      Later….

  7. avatar

    We have two groups of American citizens to replace all “Illegal” workers.

    1) Thousands of veterans, military men and women, who want jobs. These people who risk their lifes for us should have the first choice to replace all “Illegal” immigrant.
    2) Millions of physically and mentally people able to work but prefer setting on their a** and drawing welfare paid by the rest of us. When a job comes avaliable, these scumbags should have the option work or go hungry.

    The problem with “Illegal Immigrants” is not at our borders, “IT’S OUR ELECTED OFFICAILS IN WASHINGTON D.C.” and “JUDGES IN OUR COURTS”.

  8. avatar

    No one seems to understand or explain that the free market cannot work if it is constantly undercut by CHEAP AND COSTLY foreign illegals AND legals. Let the free market operate to raise, for example, nurses’ wages, and plenty of American nurses will gladly enter the field and take the jobs. The same can be said of myriads of tech jobs as well as farm jobs. Let the market operate to find the best and most profitable level, and loads of Americans will do ANY kind of work!!

    • avatar

      If your business needs that edge, then its time to find another business, or get a job. I’m sure those who employ the Illegals and some green card holders would not work for the wages that they paid. So why not get out or pay the price to have a going legal business that will pay a living wage to Americans that we all know would take, and do the job if it paid well.

  9. avatar

    I cry for what Washington is doing to America. Our Washington Government is so concerned with finding under the table ways to become millionaires, and keeping their plush jobs with all their entitlements that no one is loking out for the good of America. Throw them all out, no none ending terms, no making money on what they are privileged to hear, no extras. Do their job for a wage and that’s it. They voted on a health care plan for us, but they kept their cadillac plan. Who allowed them to become above the laws? We have to do something to stop this. Rubio trying to get a jobs bill passed that favors Immigrants…give me a break. America will be over populated if we continue allowing the Illegals to stay unless they have committed a crime, and raising the number of legal Immigrants allowed in. Washington is lacking COMMON SENSE.

    • avatar

      Why is it no one finds fault with those countries that require basically that unless your skills are needed, or if you can support yourself for a required period of time to make yourself an asset to the country you can’t immigrant, but if we do it we’re call mean spirited not only by the countries that these people came from by the liberal left, and those citizens that share the illegal immigrants ethnicity. Its deplorable that we are call Racist, mean, selfish, and cruel.

  10. avatar

    MEXICO’S BIGGEST EXPORTS: DRUGS, CRIME, CRIMINALS, PREGNANET WOMEN & POVERTY!

    WHEN A MEXICAN JUMPS OUR BORDER THEY ARE LEAVING A JOB FOR AN AMERICAN’S THAT WILL PAY THEM 8XS MORE IN WAGES, NO MATTER HOW MISERABLE THE GRINGO PAY!

    THEY ALSO WILL GET GRINGO-PAID “FREE” ANCHOR BABY BIRTHING = 18 YEARS OF WELFARE, “FREE” EDUCATION, “FREE” MEDICAL AT ANY AND ALL EMERGENCY ROOMS, AND WILL DRIVE WITHOUT THE COST BURDER OF LICENSES, OR INSURANCE!

    http://mexicanoccupation.blogspot.com/2011/11/mexicos-biggest-export-drugs-criminals.html
    *
    MEXICO EXPORTS THEIR POOR! WE ARE MEXICO’S WELFARE AND PRISON SYSTEM!
    the cost of illegals to arizona (fairus.org)
    The cost of illegals to the taxpayers of Arizona comes to $ 1.3 billion per year for education, Medicare and incarceration. Even when the estimated tax contributions of illegals workers are subtracted the amount still comes out to $1.3 billion EDUCATION: Arizonians spend approx. $820 million annually on education for illegals. HEALTHCARE: uncompensated medical outlays for healthcare provided to the states illegal alien population is now estimated at about $400 million a year. INCARCERATION; the cost of incarcerating the illegal aliens in Arizona prisons and jails amounts to about $80 million a year, (not including the monetary costs of the crimes that led to incarceration)
    *
    “Why are they not calling for a boycott of Mexico? The truth is that Mexico is exporting, or at the very least facilitating the export, of its poverty in the form of illegal immigrants to the United States.”
    *
    HOW MUCH DOES THE MEXICAN INVASION, OCCUPATION AND EVER EXPANDING WELFARE STATE HAVE ON….: Why does “immigration reform” now demand a higher national priority than the crippling unemployment that is devastating the economic base and precipitating wide spread home foreclosures in our communities?
    *
    SOMEBODY CLOSE THE DOOR: Reactions to Arizona Immigration Law Misses the Point
    BY CLARENCE B. JONES
    Scholar in Resident
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute at Stanford University
    A good doctor knows to treat the disease, not the symptoms.
    In the discussion about the new law passed in Arizona directed at addressing that state’s problems associated with illegal immigrants from Mexico, the protests concerning the legislation are directed at the wrong parties, in the wrong direction. The pro-immigration community, some church groups and many Civil Rights leaders are all calling for a boycott of the State of Arizona based on their belief that the new Arizona law is focused on “racial profiling” as the method for identifying possible illegal Mexican immigrants.
    We have the most sophisticated surveillance and monitoring technology in history, the most formidable military in the world, yet we are unable to stop the daily intrusion of illegal immigrants from Mexico into the United States?
    As an African-American who lived through and before the Civil Rights Movement, I’m no fan of assessing people based on their skin color. But holding a struggling State’s feet to the fire on tactics is missing the point . Why are protests not being directed to our national government and the government of Mexico? Why aren’t these groups demanding that our porous border with Mexico be closed, once and for all? It’s not impossible. We have the most sophisticated surveillance and monitoring technology in history, the most formidable military in the world, yet we are unable to stop the daily intrusion of illegal immigrants from Mexico into the United States? This is a failure of policy, not one of capability.
    Congress has been unwilling to pass an immigration bill, the first priority of which is closing the border. Why does “immigration reform” now demand a higher national priority than the crippling unemployment that is devastating the economic base and precipitating wide spread home foreclosures in our communities? President Obama said the health reform was the first priority of his first term. Now, he is turning his attention to financial reform of the banking system. Meanwhile, cities like Phoenix and many cities in the State of California and elsewhere are drowning in red ink with an ever-growing population demanding ever-more city services.
    Arizona is now being depicted as the official state of “racial profiling,” with anti-Hispanic and anti-immigration swirling around it like scarlet letters. But the passage of its bill to prevent the continued influx and presence of illegal immigrants in the State appears more like an act of desperation than racially motivated legislation.
    WE ARE MEXICO’S WELFARE AND PRISON SYSTEM. THIS ENABLED THE RULING BILLIONAIRE OLIGARCHY TO MAINTAIN THE ECONOMY IN THEIR GREEDY GRASPS. THINGS DON’T MUCH CHANGE IN SHAMELESS MEXICO; ANY MORE THAN SHAMELESS WALL ST. MOST OF THE FORTUNE 500 ARE GENEROUS DONORS OF LA RAZA!
    As such, it relieves the government of Mexico from any financial responsibility for the economic consequences associated with the cost of medical care, public education, public housing, welfare, police, and social services provided by the cities, counties and states in which such initially illegal immigrants choose to reside.
    The pro-illegal immigration amnesty movement shuns the classification “illegal” immigrant; preferring instead the term “undocumented immigrant.” This is, of course, framing the debate. The “undocumented” immigrants entered into the United States illegally. When apprehended, deportation back to their country of origin is the customary legal procedure. Now, however, an intermediary process is advocated in lieu of deportation: an undocumented immigrant who, after following certain prescribed procedures, including the payment of taxes, will be permitted to remain in the United States. This constitutes de facto amnesty for the “undocumented immigrant.” As such, it relieves the government of Mexico from any financial responsibility for the economic consequences associated with the cost of medical care, public education, public housing, welfare, police, and social services provided by the cities, counties and states in which such initially illegal immigrants choose to reside.
    Well-intentioned people are quick to denounce Arizona and call for a boycott of business transactions or travel involving the state. Why are they not calling for a boycott of Mexico? The truth is that Mexico is exporting, or at the very least facilitating the export, of its poverty in the form of illegal immigrants to the United States.
    WHEN YOU HEAR OBAMA TALK ABOUT JOBS, WHICH IS SELDOM, YOU CAN BET THE RANCHERO HE MEANS JOBS FOR ILLEGALS!
    Any version of amnesty for illegal immigrants and efforts to organize a boycott of Arizona will detract from the number one priority affecting substantial segment of the American people: unemployment. Moreover, it will blow a hole in the projected operating costs and budget deficit projections in the new health care bill.

    SHOULD MEXICO START PAYING FOR THEIR OWN WELFARE? HOW ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FINE ANY ILLEGAL THAT WAVES A MEX FLAG IN OUR FACES AND REFUSED TO SPEAK THE GRINGO’S LANGUAGE? THAT ALONE WOULD BRING IN BILLIONS!
    The annual cost of maintaining and providing services to illegal or “undocumented” citizens should be tabulated, assumed and paid by the Government of Mexico or credited against the annual cost of oil we import from them until such time as immigrants from their country become U.S. citizens.
    Why don’t the pro-amnesty undocumented immigrant leaders join forces with the “anti-illegal immigration” leaders and bring the Government of Mexico to the table? The annual cost of maintaining and providing services to illegal or “undocumented” citizens should be tabulated, assumed and paid by the Government of Mexico or credited against the annual cost of oil we import from them until such time as immigrants from their country become U.S. citizens.
    Let’s face it: right or wrong, the Arizona legislation is treating the symptoms of an international disease that needs much stronger medicine.

    • avatar

      Start your club and put my name first. That was a great article and Im certain you will find the majority of Americans agreeing with you and we are not rascists. We want Americans to be first in any politicians views.
      Rose Wiener

  11. avatar

    IT’S ALL ABOUT KEEPING WAGES DEPRESSED WITH HORDES OF ILLEGALS.

    IN LA RAZA OCCUPIED MEXIFORNIA, THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS UP TO 30% IN SOME COUNTIES. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN MEXICO IS UNDER 6%!

    http://mexicanoccupation.blogspot.com/2011/06/addicted-to-cheap-illegal-labor-but-how.html

    *

    DESTROYING THE COUNTRY from addiction to ‘CHEAP MEX LABOR” (THAT COST YOU BILLIONS)

    ADDICTED TO CHEAP LABOR… but how “cheap” is it? And who is it “cheap” for?

    IN 2010 CALIFORNIA PUT OUT $20 BILLION IN SOCIAL SERVICES TO ILLEGALS! LOS ANGELES COUNTY ALONE PUTS OUT $600 MILLION IN SOCIAL SERVICES TO ILLEGALS.

    By Jerry Seper THE WASHINGTON TIMES

    Published December 7, 2004

    Illegal immigration costs the taxpayers of California — which has the highest number of illegal aliens nationwide — $10.5 billion a year for education, health care and incarceration, according to a study released yesterday (THAT FIGURE NOW EXCEEDS $2O BILLION PER YEAR IN CA ALONE). A key finding of the report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said the state’s already struggling kindergarten-through-12th-grade education system spends $7.7 billion a year on children of illegal aliens, who constitute 15 percent of the student body. The report also said the incarceration of convicted illegal aliens in state prisons and jails and uncompensated medical outlays for health care provided to illegal aliens each amounted to about $1.4 billion annually. The incarceration costs did not include judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes committed by illegal aliens that led to their incarceration. “California’s addiction to ‘cheap’ illegal-alien labor is bankrupting the state and posing enormous burdens on the state’s shrinking middle-class tax base,” said FAIR President Dan Stein. “Most Californians, who have seen their taxes increase while public services deteriorate, already know the impact that mass illegal immigration is having on their communities, but even they may be shocked when they learn just how much of a drain illegal immigration has become,” he said. California is estimated to be home to nearly 3 million illegal aliens. Mr. Stein noted that state and local taxes paid by the unauthorized immigrant population go toward offsetting these costs, but do not match expenses. The total of such payments was estimated in the report to be about $1.6 billion per year. He also said the total cost of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas, such as special English instruction, school meal programs or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal-alien workers were added into the equation. Gerardo Gonzalez, director of the National Latino Research Center at California State at San Marcos, which compiles data on Hispanics, was critical of FAIR’s report yesterday. He said FAIR’s estimates did not measure some of the contributions that illegal aliens make to the state’s economy. “Beyond taxes, these workers’ production and spending contribute to California’s economy, especially the agricultural sector,” he said, adding that both legal and illegal aliens are the “backbone” of the state’s $28 billion-a-year agricultural industry. In August, a similar study by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, said U.S. households headed by illegal aliens used $26.3 billion in government services during 2002, but paid $16 billion in taxes, an annual cost to taxpayers of $10 billion. The FAIR report focused on three specific program areas because those were the costs examined by researchers from the Urban Institute in 1994, Mr. Stein said. Looking at the costs of education, health care and incarceration for illegal aliens in 1994, the Urban Institute estimated that California was subsidizing illegal immigrants at about $1.1 billion a year. Mr. Stein said an enormous rise in the costs of illegal immigrants in 10 years is because of the rapid growth of the illegal population. He said it is reasonable to expect those costs to continue to soar if action is not taken to turn the tide. “1994 was the same year that California voters rebelled and overwhelmingly passed Proposition 187, which sought to limit liability for mass illegal immigration,” he said. “Since then, state and local governments have blatantly ignored the wishes of the voters and continued to shell out publicly financed benefits on illegal aliens. “Predictably, the costs of illegal immigration have grown geometrically, while the state has spiraled into a fiscal crisis that has brought it near bankruptcy,” he said. Mr. Stein said that the state must adopt measures to systematically collect information on illegal-alien use of taxpayer-funded services and on where they are employed, and that policies need to be pursued to hold employers financially accountable.

    WHAT PARTICULARLY BOTHERS ME ABOUT THE INVADERS, IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MUCH THEY GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY, THE ARRIVE WITH AN ATTITUDE OF ENTITLEMENT. THEY THINK WE OWE THEM free lunches.

    The net cost to the federal government in 2002 for public services provided to illegal aliens was $10.4 billion or $2,736 per household according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies. Estimates for 2005 put the amount at $11.7 billion or $3,080 per household. Illegal Alien Costs By Social Service Lost Revenue: The U.S. may be foregoing up to $35 billion in lost tax revenue because of the growing size of the underground labor market using illegal workers in the cash economy, according to a January, 2005 report by the Wall Street firm Bear Sterns. Health Costs: Medicaid costs for illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children are $2.8 billion annually, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies. Approximately 70% of households headed by illegal aliens have at least one person without medical insurance, compared to 20% of all other households. The federal government spends $250 million each year reimbursing states for emergency medical services provided to illegal aliens, which is less than 10% of the true cost of those services. Education Costs: The Center for Immigration Studies has shown that federal aid to K-12 public schools for the education of the children of illegal aliens is $1.4 billion annually, not including the cost of free school lunches. The total cost to state and local taxpayers for educating 3.5 million children of illegal aliens is estimated at $28.6 billion, according to a Federation for American Immigration Reform study. Incarceration: Illegal aliens account for less than 5% of the U.S. adult population, but were 17% of the federal prison population in 2004, imposing a net cost of $1.8 billion in court and incarceration expenses. Fortunately, Americans have seen through the protestors’ half-truths. A Rasmussen poll released last week showed widespread disfavor of recent immigration protests, with 26 percent holding a favorable opinion and 54 percent holding an unfavorable opinion. Wake up America!!! Illegal Immigration has to be stopped. Take a look at this website and see where all your tax dollars are going: 1. 1. http://immigrationcounters.com/