Miguel Cruz, a Goshen College alumnus, is working on a tax to benefit immigrants, the economy and the local government.
An article in the Elkhart Truth published last week described illegal immigrants lying about their number of dependents when they file their W-2s. This has resulted in Goshen receiving less money from the state because Goshen can’t prove the actual population.
According to Miguel Cruz, immigrants are actually encouraged to make the exaggerations by their employers. Cruz, along with Charles Mumaw, are proposing a flat tax for immigrants in which half of the money would be set aside and refunded back to the immigrant after seven years. The other half would go to the city of Goshen.
Instigating this tax would allow immigrants to take advantage of services they are already supporting. “[Immigrants] are paying taxes, but they can’t use any of the services,” said Cruz.
According to Cruz, the tax would also help with identification theft because the immigrant would be registered at a local level and wouldn’t need to forge identification. The immigrant would have a payback and wouldn’t need to lie. “We won’t stop immigration,” said Cruz. “Instead, we need to find a way to work with immigrants.”
In a second Elkhart Truth article, Mayor Allan Kauffman said there was no way for this tax to work. He questioned immigrants volunteering to pay taxes and didn’t think it was possible at a government level.
After talking with a state auditor and other government officials, Cruz said that Kauffman’s statement was not entirely true. Additionally, Cruz explained an immigrant would benefit from the tax by being in the system. Therefore, an immigrant could legally receive benefits.
In the middle of February, Cruz and Mumaw will meet with the mayor of Elkhart about their proposed tax. They have not yet heard from Kauffman, though they feel positive about his lack of response. “Kauffman’s response in the paper is hopeful to us because we have the answers to his questions,” said Cruz.
But Cruz and Mumaw will not be able to pass a tax by themselves. “We are strong believers that the students at Goshen College are the energy we need to get this through,” said Cruz. “If the students can cooperate with the immigration issues and help create momentum, it would be greatly appreciated.”