From 2006 to 2007 I wrote for The Republican Journal a column entitled "All Along the Watchtower," which I unfortunately had to abandon. It's good to be back; and I have decided to rename my column, in the interest of a fresh start. On with the show.

Enough of the immigrant bashing already. First it was the Chinese — who built this country's first railroads. Then it was the Italians, the Irish, and Catholics. And Jews. Now it's Latinos, the latest bogeyman to pour over the border like so many Huns.

Like many of you, I came home recently to find in my mailbox an apocalyptic flyer from the Maine Republican Party decrying, in ominous print, Mike Michaud's “FAILED POLICIES.”

“Each illegal immigrant household costs U.S. taxpayers $14,387 in government benefits and services,” the flyer warns in dire multi-colored print. There's only one problem with that statement — it's a lie.

First consider the source of this dire warning: The Heritage Foundation, a self-described “conservative” think tank whose website is fraught with false and misleading factoids.

“President Obama should not pursue an unpopular, polarizing administrative amnesty,” the website proclaims, citing no sources for this alleged unpopularity. But according to the non-partisan Pew Research Center, fully 73 percent of Americans agree that “immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally who meet certain requirements should have a way to stay legally.” Seventy-three percent doesn't sound terribly unpopular to me. And it sounds a lot more popular than the 39 percent polled by (Republican) Gov. LePage in the last election.

The website goes on to state that “deportations…have decreased dramatically under President Obama.” Wrong again. According to Pew, deportations were running under 200,000 a year when Obama took office. Since then they have risen steadily, to some 419,000 in 2012, and last year the federal government reported 368,644 “removals.” According to AlterNet and Mother Jones Magazine, Obama is on pace to deport a total of two million by the end of this year — if he hasn't done so already. That's more than any other administration in history, and more than the total deported from 1892 to 1997 — with two more Obama years to go. And never mind that Obama is seeking fast-track authority from Congress in order to further accelerate this record pace of deportations.

Clearly the Heritage Foundation inhabits a world unburdened by facts. But you have to admire the way the Republicans have turned facts, and the truth, into some kind of shell game. Cite the Heritage Foundation as your source, and then the Heritage Foundation cites no source. Now that's good old-fashioned American ingenuity.

But let's get back to the hordes of undocumented immigrants bankrupting the federal government and every god-fearing taxpayer in the land. Here too the Heritage Foundation — and the Republican Party — are flying in a fact-free zone. Unlike many rich and powerful beneficiaries of largely Republican-sponsored scorched-earth tax breaks, undocumented workers pay taxes, a lot of taxes. They pay payroll taxes, sales tax, property tax, and taxes on services. Sure, some of them work off the books, but so do people in every other demographic group.

And here lies the rub. Undocumented immigrants pay all these taxes and get very little back in the way of benefits or services because they fear that accessing benefits or services may lead to deportation and or because they simply don't qualify for many — or most — benefits or services. In other words, the undocumented pay in more, much more, than they get back out, thus benefiting you and me and everyone else who actually does access government programs.

To cite just one example, the Social Security Trust Fund estimated in 2010 that undocumented workers paid as much as $13 billion into the trust fund, and received only about $1 billion in benefits from the fund. That's a net contribution of $12 billion, or about $1,000 for every undocumented person in the country. It's like a modern-day form of taxation without representation, only it's taxation without services. One might almost think the Republican Party would be grateful for this unearned largesse and go find some other whipping boy. Almost.

In other words, these Heritage Foundation-Republican Party assertions are not only false, they are the exact opposite of the truth – the undocumented are net contributors to government programs. Instead of whipping voters into yet another immigrant-bashing frenzy, these demagogic hucksters should be on their knees thanking immigrants for keeping afloat the valuable government programs that benefit all of us.

And while they're on their knees, they might also thank undocumented workers for enduring literally untold amounts of wage theft, substandard housing, harassment, and labor and sanitation violations in order to put on our table the cheapest food — relative to income — in the world. And thank them for helping to fuel what economic recovery there might be out there, for were it not for immigration — documented and undocumented — consumer demand, and the economy, would be flat as a pancake.

And so it is that what is much more likely to cost U.S. taxpayers $14,387 is not the presence of an undocumented household on our soil but rather the deportation of an undocumented household from our soil. Who's got the FAILED POLICY now?

Lawrence Reichard is a freelance writer living in Belfast. He wrote the column All Along the Watchtower for The Republican Journal from 2006 to 2007. He has also worked as a full-time reporter for the Staten Island Advance, and has been freelance writer for more than 30 years, published in CounterPunch, In These Times, Cultural Survival, the Bangor Daily News, The Stockton (CA) Record, Face Magazine, San Francisco Weekly, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Peacework and various local newspapers.