Immigrants contribute millions of dollars in taxes and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in all 50 states every year, according to statistics compiled by a new group that’s advocating for change in immigration laws.
Those statistics illustrate the sizable impact immigrants have in states such as Florida, California and Texas. For instance, in 2014 immigrants generated more than $20 billion in business income in California. But they also show that smaller states benefit from their immigrant populations.
The study came as part of a larger announcement by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group started by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that advocates for revamping U.S. immigration laws.
“It’s going to be a hard fight, and what we’re going to need, and historically what there hasn’t been enough of, are the right stories, the right data, the right facts,” said Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of the organization.
That hard fight begins now, advocates said in a conference call Wednesday, and will continue into 2017 regardless of whether Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election in November.
Robbins said the goal of the study was to persuade members of Congress that immigration was essential to their state economies. To further that goal, the organization plans to release additional reports that are specific to individual congressional districts by the end of the year.
Co-sponsors of the study continuously cited the statistics and economic benefits as one of the primary reasons to support immigration. In Florida, where 1 in 5 people were born outside the United States, immigrants contributed almost $6.4 billion in state and local taxes in 2014 and employed more than 506,000 people, according to the reports.
Those number are even higher in Texas: Immigrants generated almost $8 billion in business income in 2014 and paid $8.7 billion in state and local taxes.
Immigration also provides a boost to less immigrant-dense states, according to the reports. For example, immigrants in Rhode Island – which had fewer than 7,000 immigrants move to the state from 2010 to 2014 – employed more than 27,000 people and contributed roughly $336 million in state and local taxes.
“It’s easy to see immigration at the national level,” Robbins said. “But understanding what it means in your state and in your community, that’s what members want. They want to bring growth; they want to bring jobs back home.”
Immiration restructuring could also help farmers, who face a labor shortage. Up to 40 percent of farmers can’t harvest everything they produce, said Tom Nassif, the president of Western Growers, a California-based association. Nassif said the concern that foreigners took jobs from Americans simply wasn’t true for farm labor.
“I don’t think many people in this country understand the blessing that has come from this foreign community that has come here to help us and to help us feed the world,” he said.
Nassif added that if comprehensive changes to immigration laws were not made, the United States would become reliant on foreign powers for produce, now picked largely by immigrant labor.
“We can’t continue along those lines,” he said.