"Where did all my money go?" I stared forlornly at my bank account. I had just received my very first paycheck. Instead of feeling a sense of happiness, however, I felt angry. My new job stiffed me out of money I had rightfully earned! How dare they! My parents, who were present at the time of the incident, only laughed. "Welcome to the real world Francesca," they told me. "A world in which hard working people have to pay taxes."

I can't be the only person in America who gets bummed out every time they get their paycheck, which has already been deducted for taxes. Everybody in the United States, including legal and illegal immigrants, have to pay taxes.[1] According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), all immigrants have to pay taxes primarily for two reasons: because it's the law and it serves as a way to document their residency.[2]

I didn't realize this when I got my first paycheck, but the money taken out of my paycheck is used to help me, my family, and society. Taxes help build roads and provide assistance to those in need through federal assistance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare.

On September 22, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security announced a proposal that would adversely affect the present and future legal immigrant population of the U.S. This proposal would cause legal immigrants, who are receiving benefits from federal assistance programs, to be denied citizenship if they want to apply for it. It would also cause those who are applying for legal status to be rejected if they are on federal assistance.

The United States government has decided that immigrants, both legal and illegal, must pay taxes. As a result, this makes them, as well as other taxpaying Americans, eligible to receive the benefits associated with these federal assistance programs.

Yet, very few immigrants are actually receiving aid from federal assistance programs. As of 2015, 33.8 million legal immigrants are living in the United States. Only 382,000 of these legal immigrants are receiving aid from federal assistance programs. That means only 1.13% of legal immigrants are receiving aid from federal assistance programs.

The Department of Homeland Security's proposal may not affect a lot of the current legal immigrant population. However, it may discourage future immigrants from entering the U.S. legally. If I am an immigrant who wants to enter the U.S., why should I file all that paperwork and enter the U.S. legally when my tax money won't even be used to help me? At that point, would it be more beneficial to enter the United States illegally?

These are interesting questions. Hopefully they will be answered in the coming weeks as the Department of Homeland Security releases a copy of the proposal to the public.


[1] I am defining legal immigrants as: naturalized citizens and immigrants who are permanently living in the United States legally.

[2] The IRS follows confidentiality laws that prevent them from sharing the whereabouts of illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.