Here’s a little more on why the border fence won’t fix the United States immigration system.

Business has its own agenda. That said, government made the first move.

Aside from giving undocumented immigrants ITIN numbers, which the IRS has done since 1996, the business community has made several attempts to tap into this generally fiscally responsible demographic that is filing their income tax at increasing rates.

Banks have been extending mortgages to undocumented immigrants for years; in fact, they are more stable than most other mortgages since applicants have more stringent requirements to get them.

Sub-prime mortgages, that great idea that tanked the US economy, had a delinquency of 9.3%. Joe the Plumbers who take out prime mortgages had a delinquency rate of 1%. ITIN mortgages, which undocumented immigrants take out because they require no Social Security number, were only .5% delinquent.

In 2007, Bank of America even experimented with giving people without valid Social Security numbers credit cards.

Why is all this happening? Because business and government simply haven’t made up their collective minds. In the meantime, millions of people’s lives, roughly eleven million, hard-working, tax-paying lives, hang in the balance.

The cited New York Times article touches us locally. Imagine this scene:

“In Raleigh, N.C., a tax preparer found 350 immigrants waiting outside his office at 7 a.m., including one dragging a suitcase that held $14,000 in cash for back taxes. In Baltimore, a community agency offering free tax help that was deserted the day after 69 people were rounded up in immigration raids elsewhere in the city was crowded again within 24 hours.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, plenty of anti-immigrant activists and folks that fill the comment board with angry words like these insist that the undocumented are simply sponging off the system. But it’s just not true. Title V of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 prevents any person (unless they are a victim of domestic violence) who is not a legal resident from receiving any government aid.

For almost fifteen years, the government and business have been sending mixed signals to the immigrant community. It’s time we got it right.

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