Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) has launched a new ad against his Republican opponent, State Rep. Austin Scott (R), that takes aim at Scott’s record on immigration.
The 30-second ad, which will begin airing on the airwaves this week, ominously warns that “times are hard, and illegal immigrants are putting more of a burden on taxpayers by using public services like hospitals and schools.” It continues by saying that “Austin Scott voted against penalizing illegal immigrants who tried to send money out of the country.” It notes that Scott said he had a “moral problem” making immigrants pay. It then asks, “Mr. Scott, what about the moral problem of illegal immigrants breaking the law?” Watch it:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway has located the bill the Marshall campaign is attacking Scott for opposing. HB 1238, the “Illegal Immigrant Fee Act,” would “have levied a 5 percent tax on cash wired out of the country by any individual who could not prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency.” The bill eventually passed by a 106-60 vote, and Scott was “one of the few Republican members to vote against it.”
Galloway finds this blurb from his paper detailing Scott’s opposition to passage of the bill at the time:
In a speech, Scott said that comprehensive immigration reform is needed, because of the impact illegal immigrants have on crime and public schools. But Scott said he believes that Rice’s bill would “tax people who are doing the best they can to provide for their families. I’ve got a moral problem with that.”
Marshall is wrong to claim that undocumented immigrants are a “burden” on public services and to attack Scott for proposing the only real solution to our broken immigration system: comprehensive immigration reform. It is simply a myth that undocumented immigrants take advantage of American public services without paying any taxes. A study by the National Council of La Raza released earlier this year estimates that undocumented immigrants “will pay, on average, approximately $80,000 more in taxes per capita than they use in government services” over the course of their working lifetimes. Additionally, it is estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute $7 billion a year into Social Security, money which they are ineligible to recover.
If Marshall is really seriously concerned about the economic effects of immigration, he should join Scott in supporting comprehensive immigration reform instead of supporting frivolous and punitive measures like HB 1238 that immiserate the lives of immigrants without getting to the root of the problem. A joint CAP/UCLA/Immigration Policy Center study released last year estimates that giving America’s undocumented workers a path to citizenship “would yield at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years.”