Legalization of Undocumented Workers Proves Economically Advantageous in 7 States

New Fact Sheets Crunch Numbers for Nevada, Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico

Washington, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)–August 30, 2012.  Today, while immigration reform and fiscal responsibility are under discussion at the Republican National Convention, the Center for American Progress released “The Consequences of Legalization Versus Mass Deportation,” outlining the economic and fiscal benefits of legalizing undocumented workers in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico. These findings highlight in concrete terms how devastating “self-deportation” policy proposals would be for these states. By contrast, unleashing these workers’ full potential by enabling them to earn legal status would dramatically grow state economies, increase tax revenues by billions of dollars, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“This CAP report puts into sharp relief yet again that the harsh enforcement policies promoted by immigration hardliners are not only unrealistic but also economically self-defeating,” said Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress. “The American public understands that these deportation-only policies are misguided and that’s why voters of all political stripes overwhelmingly favor a ‘both/and’ approach: continuing efforts to secure the border and requiring undocumented immigrants to register, pay a fine, and earn legal status. Our elected leaders have a choice: Catch up to the pragmatism of the American public and help grow our economy, or continue throwing money down the drain on a failed deportation-centric approach that wastes the rich economic potential of our undocumented neighbors.”

The benefits of immigration are clear, and states stand to prosper from forward-looking federal immigration policies or lose out with the perpetuation of harsh and restrictive ones. Immigrants are not just workers; they are consumers and taxpayers. The effects of their labor and consumption on economic growth and fiscal health must be factored in as we consider how to address the situation of a large undocumented workforce.

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Debates about the economic and fiscal benefits and drawbacks of immigrants typically oversimplify the role that immigrants play in our economy. When one looks more closely, they will find that the impact that immigrants (or any group for that matter) have on the economy is multifaceted and complex.

Immigrants are not just workers; they are also consumers and taxpayers. The effects of their labor and consumption on economic growth and fiscal health must be factored in as we consider how to address the situation of a large undocumented workforce.

In this report we describe the direct impacts of either deporting or legalizing undocumented workers. In reality, the effects would be much larger. Mass deportation, for example, would result in an indirect negative impact on local businesses because there would be less money circulating in the local economy, which would lead to further job losses. The estimates reported here should thus be considered conservative rather than exhaustive.

We estimate the economic contributions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, for seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia. These seven states have some of the largest populations of unauthorized immigrants, and have played and will continue to play a pivotal role in elections as swing states. We then report the negative fiscal impact of four different deportation scenarios—namely what would happen if 15, 30, 50, or 100 percent of undocumented immigrants were removed from the state. Finally, we explore the positive economic outcomes that would result from legalizing undocumented immigrants in each of the seven states.

State reports:
Arizona
Colorado
Florida
Nevada
New Mexico
Texas
Virginia

Dr. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda is the founding director of the North American Integration and Development Center.

Source: americanprogress.org