Last week a Facebook post by an Argentina-born immigrant who came here illegally, Belen Sisa, went viral. In this post she slammed Donald Trump and attempted to debunk the belief that illegal immigrants mooch off our system more than they contribute.
You can read her post below:
As is to be expected, the media immediately fell in love. They wrote story after story glorifying the genius of her post, while ignoring the obvious inconsistencies in her story.
Let’s break this down real quick…
If That’s Her 1040 form, She’s Not Undocumented
In this post, Belen Sisa describes herself using the PC term ‘undocumented.’ This is rather ironic because in the picture she posted she’s literally holding a document that documents her with the federal government. The federal government at the very least knows who she is, where she works, how much money she makes, where she goes to school, etc.
Sisa is also a ‘Dreamer’ benefiting from DACA. This means she is not only documented, but even has legal status at the moment. She is not the least bit representative of the vast majority of illegal immigrants in this country. This is why the most accurate way to broadly describe immigrants that came and stay here illegally is not undocumented, but illegal – the correct legal terrminology.
That’s a Federal Tax Form, Not an Arizona Tax Form
Notice that she’s holding a 1040 form in the photo. This doesn’t make any sense because this is a federal income tax form, not an Arizona state form. She would need to use a 140 form, or another like these from azdor.gov, in order to file state income taxes for Arizona. Considering she is bragging about paying $300 to the state of Arizona, not the federal government, it seems like she would have held one of those forms instead.
This might seem nit-picky, but I think it’s important. It seems her point in attaching this photo was to prove that she filed and paid taxes to Arizona, but this photo doesn’t do that. It’s like me taking a picture of myself about to bite into an apple and saying, “See, I told you I eat oranges!” It just doesn’t make sense. Not to mention, the 1040 form is completely blank, so the picture is altogether pointless.
She Doesn’t Mention How Much She Paid in Federal Income Tax
Let’s say I’m trying to convince you I contributed a substantial amount of money to a specific charity via two checks. Would I tell you the amount on the smallest of those checks, the largest of those checks, or the amount on both of those checks? Obviously, I’m going to tell you the amount of both of them because the total of both would be larger than the total of just one of them by itself. Saying I gave them one check totaling $300 is far less convincing of my narrative than saying I gave them two checks totaling $1300.
So, why did Sisa fail to mention the amount she contributed in Federal income tax? Would that not make more sense than only mentioning what she paid to her state? Could it be that she didn’t pay any federal income tax? Could it maybe, possibly be that she actually got back money (more than the $300 she paid Arizona) from the federal government?
It seems she’s not telling the whole story, which makes it hard to not believe she’s hiding things that don’t fit her “illegals don’t get tax benefits” narrative. In the end, her “I pay into the system, too!” argument smells a bit fishy.
She’s Receives Quite a Bit From the System, Even if She Doens’t Get “Benefits”
She says, “millions just like me pay into a system they will never receive anything from.” That’s not the least bit true. First, it’s completely absurd to dismiss the fact that they benefits from things paid for by US taxpayers, such as public roads, public schools, publicly funded medical research and hospitals, etc. Secondly, illegal immigrants like here actually benefit from our tax system, far more than most others, via tax credits.
How do I know this?
Well, illegal immigrants working within our system don’t have SSN numbers with which to file their taxes. They are instead given an ITIN number, like other non-citizens. This gives us a method to assess whether the are more or less likely to benefit from tax credits that outweigh the taxes they pay in.
I’ll point you to this CNS News article to finish the argument for me beacuse they explain it better anyway. Here’s just a small sample of info that’s waiting for you there:
In 2010 “72 percent of ITIN filers paid no income tax and received cash payments through child tax credits. In comparison, only 14 percent of people who filed regular tax returns (with a Social Security number instead of an ITIN) paid no income tax and received these payments.”
The Rich Aren’t Stealing Money From the Poor
Sisa insists that we should be less worried about illegal immigrants and more worried about the rich stealing from us. One problem: The Rich aren’t stealing from us…they’re paying for us.
According to my best estimates using a turbotax calcualtor, she paid at the most a 1.58% income tax rate in Arizona. When including deductions she could have actually paid a lower rate, but not any higher. By contrast, someone making $10,000,000 a year in Arizona would have paid roughly a 4.53% income tax rate. A rate that is about 3 times higher than the absolute highest she is likely to have paid.
When we look at federal taxes, she would likely have gotten money back, but that evil rich guy making $10,000,000 a year would likely have paid an effective tax rate in the double digits. Speaking of Presidnet Trump specifically, we know that in 2005 he made $105 million and paid an effective tax rate of ~26% (or $38 million).
So if anybody is stealing by following federal income tax laws (which is an absurd accusation), it’s obviously not the millionaires and billionaires. It’s more than likely illegal immigrants like herself.
Lets just be honest, Belen Sisa’s Facebook post wasn’t the least bit impressive. It wasn’t a brilliant gotcha moment.
Belen Sisa intentionally excluded information that could easily have been included in her Facebook post. She left us with more questions than answers. And it’s my hunch that she did so because providing us with more info would likely have disproven her narrative.