Fact-Checking CNN’s Deceptive Narrative About Illegal Alien Tax Payments
This tax season – as tens of millions of Americans parted with chunks of their income to fund essential government functions and feed ever-growing government spending sprees – CNN marked Tax Day by telling its readers that illegal aliens also pay taxes. While technically true, this is highly misleading because, even though illegal aliens do make some tax contributions, these are dwarfed by the massive cost of illegal immigration to U.S. taxpayers, a problem which CNN, and other organizations making up the pro-mass-migration lobby, consistently pretend does not exist.
The short CNN article, entitled “Undocumented immigrants are paying their taxes today, too,” is an updated version of a 2019 piece. It is also essentially a personal commentary – filled with quotes from illegal alien activists – dressed up as a news report.
CNN admits that many illegal aliens file tax returns for self-serving reasons, such as to demonstrate compliance with the law and “good moral character” in anticipation of a future amnesty. It fails to mention that, because most illegal aliens have low incomes, filing tax returns can also mean receiving tax credits that are often more than what they contribute. Moreover, as a matter of principle (and law), the mere act of paying taxes does not absolve one of other crimes, including – at a minimum – residing and working in the U.S. illegally.
As far as numbers are concerned, the piece relies on IRS data that (in 2019) suggests $6 billion in taxes was paid by 2.5 million filers using ITINs, most of whom are illegal aliens. CNN also cites a 2013 Social Security Administration actuarial note estimating that, in 2010, illegal aliens paid approximately $12 billion into Social Security.
The irony here is that CNN is actually underestimating illegal alien tax payments. According to FAIR’s recently-released cost study of the fiscal burden of illegal immigration, illegal aliens pay $16.2 billion in federal taxes and $15.2 billion in state and local taxes, a total of $31.4 billion annually as of 2022/2023.
While that certainly sounds like a large number, the total cost of illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children to American taxpayers is $182 billion a year (i.e., $150.7 billion after illegal alien taxes are taken into account). In other words, we are forced to provide six dollars in benefits and services for every dollar paid in taxes by the unlawfully present. That is most definitely not a good deal.
The article concludes with some quotes from “immigrant rights advocates” (i.e., pro-illegal alien activists). One quoted DACA beneficiary complained about the American political and economic system by bragging about filing a tax return, daring people online to “tell me again how I should be deported, contribute nothing and only leech off this country while the 1% wealthiest people in this country steal from you everyday?” Such a class-warfare view – so common to the Marxist wing of the pro-mass-migration lobby – misses the obvious fact that all too many among “the 1 percent” actually support open borders and mass amnesty. That’s because they reap the benefits of cheaper foreign labor while working-class American taxpayers are stuck with the costs of providing various services and benefits to low-income illegal aliens and their children.