CNN’s Misleading Claims on Illegal Aliens and Taxes



As tax season concluded, CNN featured an article about how illegal aliens “are paying their taxes” too. The post noted they “pay billions of dollars in federal taxes annually, between tax returns filed and taxes deducted from paychecks.” However, they omitted the fact that a significant percentage of illegal aliens may be working off-the-books, therefore would have no taxes withheld from their paychecks.

Even those who do have taxes deducted are generally earning meager wages and ultimately pay less in taxes than U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants. In fact, by virtue of their low incomes, many are eligible to receive tax credits that put money directly into their pockets.

In her piece, CNN reporter, Catherine Shoichet, suggests that “Critics of illegal immigration have long argued that undocumented immigrants who pay taxes are able to do so because they’re using stolen Social Security numbers. But millions of federal tax dollars are paid every year by people who don’t have Social Security numbers at all.”

Shoichet ignores the fact that many illegal aliens are using fraudulent Social Security numbers to work illegally in this country. Thirty-nine million Americans potentially had their Social Security numbers stolen during the Obama administration. People’s identities are stolen for a variety of criminal purposes, including by illegal aliens who use their Social Security numbers to gain employment. In many cases, unsuspecting identity theft victims are faced with tax liens by the IRS, or have their credit ratings destroyed by illegal aliens and other criminals – another significant cost of illegal immigration she conveniently overlooks.

Furthermore, despite Shoichet claiming that “undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in federal taxes annually”, she fails to mention the fiscal burden of illegal immigration far exceeds the taxes illegal aliens pay annually. In 2017, illegal immigration cost the country $135 billion when accounting for education, healthcare, welfare, and enforcement costs. Illegal aliens paid around $19 billion in taxes that same year.

There also remains some ambiguity about how many illegal aliens reside in the country and how many of them are working in the ‘underground economy’, which means they do not fill out tax and work authorization forms. Whatever the number, they constitute a large group of individuals who aren’t contributing their fair share of taxes.

Lastly, one of the biggest items not mentioned in Shoichet’s analysis is the fact that remittances are not taxed when illegal aliens send money to their home countries. In 2018, Northern Triangle countries received $17 billion in remittances. For El Salvador and Honduras, this accounted for as much as 20 percent of their GDPs.

CNN has once again misled the American public by cherry-picking data that supports their predetermined conclusions, while ignoring numerous inconvenient truths about the impact of large-scale illegal immigration.

About Author

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Matthew joined FAIR in 2018 as FAIR’s communications specialist. Matthew is a primary media contact for the organization and assists with all of the organization’s communication activities. He brings previous experience in government research, writing, and communications. Before joining FAIR, Matthew worked in the Wisconsin State Senate as well as a Wisconsin political non-profit. Matthew holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

7 Comments

  1. avatar

    Did CNN get Cher’s comment on the issue? Because when Trump said that he was going to send illegal crossers to sanctuary cities she said Los Angeles has enough to deal with already, what with huge camps of homeless lining the streets. But when Trump said thanks for supporting what I have said, she then turned around and trashed him. But it’s the California political leadership she and her airhead friends support that give open-ended unequivocal invitations to anyone and everyone who wants to come, legally or not.

    You watch these people tear themselves into ideological pieces depending on what Trump says. On one hand illegals are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but when it comes to taking in those very same illegals it’s no we won’t accept that, the cost is too high. It’s like Angela Merkel {Obama’s “favorite world leader”} who told migrants that all were “welcome” in Germany and then when they came by the millions she told other countries they had to take “their share”. The leftists who were all over Kavanaugh for some ridiculous allegations now turn around and say that Joe Biden did nothing wrong, even though he is on tape pawing women and young girls. Maybe just be a little consistent?

    There is a columnist named Marc Thiessen who is in general good on immigration issues but he’s on the “we need more workers” bandwagon, saying “There are now a record 6.5 job openings in the United States”. Of course there are. Business has an insatiable appetite for low wage workers and always will. A lot of those openings are for fast food and retail positions. But those extra imported people require a whole infrastructure that comes with a growing population. Delivery businesses in cities like Miami and LA have to figure a couple hours a day for their trucks being stuck in traffic. Housing prices are now beyond the reach of half or more of the population in some major cities. Adding more people to the mix only makes things worse.

  2. avatar
    John Raworth on

    This article is missing mention of ITIN, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), income tax department of the US. ITIN is a nine digit number and always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit, such as 9XX-7X-XXXX.
    These are issued in their thousands to illegal aliens for filing purposes. Filings to pay money or get refunds of withholding are few. FIlings for child tax credit are overwhelming.

  3. avatar
    Dave Mittner on

    So sorry that her piece was so busy countering right-wing talking points like “they don’t pay taxes” that she didn’t shine quite a bright enough light on the things the right shines too bright a light on. Not that this author would own up to his own side’s misrepresentations.

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