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By Seth Hoy

Immigration has never been a numbers game. When people think of immigration in America, they likely call to mind fear-fueled myths perpetuated by immigration restrictionists, like “immigrants are stealing American jobs” or “immigrants are a drain on our system.” Sadly, numbers and facts have rarely been part of the discussion, especially as state legislatures continue to take immigration law into their own hands. Today, however, the Immigration Policy Center published 50 state fact sheets updated to show just how much immigrants, Latinos and Asians contribute to our country as consumers, taxpayers, workers, entrepreneurs and voters—facts state legislators would do well to consider before passing legislation that drives immigrants, undocumented and documented, from their state.

Legislators in Alabama passed one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws (HB 56) last year in response to the state’s “immigration problem.” According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Alabama’s undocumented population was 2.5% of total population (or 120,000 people) in 2010—lower than in 22 other states. While Alabama’s undocumented may be smaller than other states, however, their economic contributions are not. Alabama’s undocumented contributed more than $130 million in state and local taxes in 2010.

As Alabama continues to drive undocumented immigrants and their contributions from the state, they also run the risk of alienating documented immigrants, Latinos and Asians in the process. Alabama’s Latino and Asian populations’ combined purchasing power was nearly $6 billion in 2010. Alabama faces a $979 million budget gap in FY2012.

In California, whose undocumented population paid $2.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2010, some recently attempted (and failed) to overturn the California DREAM Act—two laws which allow undocumented students to enroll in California’s public colleges and universities and apply for state-based funding. Studies show that by 2025, California will not have enough college graduates to keep up with economic demand. The California DREAM Act may play a critical role in boosting the number of college grads.

Another part of Georgia’s extreme immigrant law (HB 87) went into effect this month, requiring people to show certain forms of identification before they can get among other things, professional business licenses. While this may seem pretty standard, business leaders in the state are worried that this will slow commerce, cause serious processing delays, and hurt an already struggling economy. At last count, Latino and Asian businesses in Georgia had sales and receipts of $20.6 billion and employed nearly 110,000 people.

State legislatures, the majority of which convene this month, are likely to continue to consider restrictive immigration legislation this year, but it’s critical that they consider exactly how much these punitive laws will cost their state. States are far from fully recovered from the economic recession and many still face large budget shortfalls into FY2013, according to Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Facts don’t lie. Immigrants, Latinos and Asians have and will continue to account for large and growing shares of state economies and populations. Can state legislators really afford to alienate such a critical part of its labor force, tax base, and business community?

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Comment Preferences

  •  i have no problem with (0+ / 0-)

    those who come here legally,it's the ones who think they e are above the law,that bothers me.

    •  We would not have many "illegals"... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, ehrenfeucht games

      if we had a sane immigration policy.

      The Republicans saw an easy distraction for the low-information voters by blaming "illegals" for taking their jobs.  The reality is the good jobs have been exported by Big Business overseas to India and China to name just two countries.

      If you think our immigration  policy works, I refer you to fruits and vegetables rotting in the fields of Georgia and Alabama.

      Behind every great fortune lies a great crime
      paraphrase from Balzac's Le Père Goriot

      by poorbuster on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 02:28:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nobody has an issue with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Immigrants, Latinos and Asians". We have an issue with illegal aliens. Millions of immigrants manage to follow our immigration laws, come in the right way, and become valued, contributing members of our society. They are a big part of what makes America the great nation that we are.

    Illegal aliens don't follow the law and come in the wrong way. Those who hire them, protect them, encourage them should all face the maximum fines possible under the law, and they should be deported back to their home countries as soon as possible. If we need more immigrants to replace them, grant more visas to legal immigrants on the waiting list.

    •  the way i feel if people (0+ / 0-)

      will break one law what other laws will they break?

    •  FYI. The term "illegal aliens" is offensive. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ehrenfeucht games

      Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

      by Miggles on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 04:25:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And also correct . . . (0+ / 0-)
        An alien who is present in a country (which is foreign to him/her) unlawfully or without the country's authorization is known as an illegal alien of that country.[2] An illegal alien commonly refers to a foreign national who resides in another country unlawfully, either by entering that country at a place other than a designated port-of-entry or as result of the expiration of a non-immigrant visa.

        •  Well, the 2010 US Census form used a correct (0+ / 0-)

          term (that is offensive to many) to refer to African Americans.  The term "illegal alien" is out of date and offensive.  Have some respect and stop using it.

          Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

          by Miggles on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 11:59:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What term? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            IT Professional

            I'm African-American and I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about? Illegal alien is the legally correct term. Illegal immigrant is incorrect because the law distinguishes between resident aliens and resident immigrants, and if you entered the country illegally, you are an alien not an immigrant. Same for undocumented immigrant. Undocumented worker is incorrect because only a portion of the illegal alien population is working; some are not. So you tell me, what's a term more precisely correct than illega alien?

    •  Yes, they do have an issue (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, they do have an issue with Immigrants and Latinos. There is real bigotry behind this debate.

      Look at the hate being leveled against Hispanics American citizens, from attacks against NCLR (the most important Hispanic civil rights group) to hate speech leveled at kids.

      Look at the English Only legislation that keeps coming up and the new laws against teaching Hispanic American history in school.

      Give me a break. There is a good deal of bigotry behind the anti-immigrant movement. You have to close your eyes to miss it.

  •  as a californian, we've known this for ages (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ehrenfeucht games, Miggles

    our immigration laws - indeed, the entire process of immigration and naturalization - are hopelessly broken, but the people who cross the border and live in my state and my community, regardless of official status, have made them both better for their presence. as far as i am concerned, while i oppose our neoliberal trade and drug war policies that make life worse in their home countries, and act as a push factor for immigration, i view the immigrants themselves as a precious human asset for my country, state and community, and wish my government would treat them as such.

    america let my english, irish and german ancestors waltz on in without so much as signing their name at the border, and i would extend the same courtesy to their 21st century counterparts.

  •  so no one should (0+ / 0-)

    obey the law?

    •  Don't buy into the xenophobic and racist (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ehrenfeucht games, Sentido

      meme about the law.  How severe is the damage being done when someone comes here to wash dishes or pick fruits in a hot Alabama field?  This diary answers that very clearly.  The bigots rank undocumented immigration right up there with child molestation and murder.  Fuck the bigots.  Clearly this is not the case and is a terrible way to treat people who are coming here to make better their dire economic circumstances.  Just because these people are working here without the appropriate permits/documentation/etc doesn't mean they should be treated like shit.  This is CORE to progressivism.

      Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

      by Miggles on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 04:39:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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