Anti-Immigrant Fox Host Dobbs Fails On Basic Immigration Facts

Lou Dobbs asked a series of questions about immigrants in America, claiming the answers didn't exist. In fact, many of his questions are not only easily answered, but highlight the contributions of immigrants of all kinds.

On his Fox Business program, Dobbs used his “chalk talk” segment to claim that immigration reform was being rushed through the Senate. As evidence, Dobbs asked a series of questions about undocumented immigrants, such as their education levels, employment status and economic contributions. In each case, Dobbs insisted that “we don't know” the answer:

Dobb's ignorance on basic immigration facts is surprising considering immigration has been one of his primary targets for years. Not only are the answers to many of his questions readily available, they point to both the accomplishments and contributions of immigrants and the need for comprehensive reform.

A 2009 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that between 1990 and 2006, “the metropolitan areas with the fastest economic growth were also the areas with the greatest increase in immigrant share of the labor force.” A Bush-era study found that immigration as a whole adds $37 billion to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) every year. The New York Times reported on the various economic benefits of immigrants, concluding, "Nearly all economists, of all political persuasions, agree that immigrants -- those here legally or not -- benefit the overall economy.

The economic contributions of immigrants would be even greater with immigration reform. UCLA professor and immigration expert Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda estimated that passing comprehensive immigration reform would add at least $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy over 10 years. By comparison, Hinojosa-Ojeda found that expelling immigrants would decrease GDP by $2.6 trillion over 10 years.

Immigrants also pay taxes. The New York Times article pointed out that “undocumented workers contribute about $15 billion a year to Social Security through payroll taxes. They only take out $1 billion (very few undocumented workers are eligible to receive benefits). Over the years, undocumented workers have contributed up to $300 billion, or nearly 10 percent, of the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund.” The Immigration Policy Center estimated that households with undocumented immigrants “paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.”

Further, educational levels of immigrants have been studied. According to a Brookings Institution report, the “share of working-age immigrants in the United States who have a bachelor's degree has risen considerably since 1980, and now exceeds the share without a high school diploma.” A 2011 article in The Washington Post reported that “Highly skilled temporary and permanent immigrants in the United States now outnumber lower-skilled ones, marking a dramatic shift in the foreign-born workforce.” According to Pew Hispanic Center, 52 percent of adult undocumented immigrants have a high school degree or greater.