Taxing Remittances Is a Long Overdue Enforcement Tool to Curb Immigration

Enforcement advocates have proposed many solutions to curb illegal immigration: double-layered fencing, mandatory E-Verify, hefty fines and jail sentences for employers who hire aliens. But a less publicly discussed option that might be equally effective is to tax remittances, the money illegal aliens send back home.

Remittances are a prominent factor in a prospective alien’s decision to travel north. Imposing a tax like the one suggested in Sen. David Vitter’s, S. 79, The Remittance Status Verification Act, might not only deter illegal immigration, but with less incoming remittance revenue and more nationals staying home, Mexico, Central America and China would be pressured to do a better job of providing for their citizens.

A recent Government Accountability Office report found that foreign nationals, some living in the U.S. illegally, send an average of $54 billion yearly to their home countries, mostly Mexico. But S. 79 would impose a 7 percent fee on remittances for customers who wire money to another country but cannot prove that they are in the United States legally. Currently, remittances are untaxed. The revenue, after paying for implementation of the program, would be directed to pay for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology.

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