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Monday, June 01, 2009

Immigrants Impact on States and Localities

The assumption in too many political debates is that immigrants are a net negative on state and local government budgets – especially undocumented workers. But economic reality is quite different.

In late April, the Immigration Policy Center published a valuable report highlighting the findings from a variety of studies looking at immigrations, and their effects on states and localities.

The report sums up:

Accurately assessing the costs and contributions of immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, is a challenge, but research shows that between one-half and three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. Moreover, all immigrants (legal and undocumented) pay sales taxes (when they buy anything at a store, for instance) and property taxes (even if they rent housing). … [A] number of state studies … have found that immigrants in general—and the undocumented specifically—contribute to the public treasuries and economies of many states and localities.

Read the entire report here.

The bottom line is that immigrants are a net plus to government’s coffers, and undocumented immigrants are a net plus to state and local economies.

What we need now, and have for some time, is immigration reform that provides real border security, greatly expands and accelerates legal avenues for immigration, and provides a path to legalization for undocumented workers otherwise following the law and contributing to our nation.

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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