Debate over immigration overshadows benefits

Arizona ranks 18th among the states for economic benefits from immigration including “brain gain” and innovators, according to a new study by WalletHub, the personal finance website for the masses.  

WalletHub, which researches financial issues to help consumers and businesses, conducted the study to shed light on the “contentious” national debate over immigration. Recent feuding over border wall funding and migrant caravans from Central America have put a harsh spotlight on the issue.

This is one of several new studies detailing the importance of immigrants to the country’s economic future. It analyzed 20 metrics to compare the economic impact of foreign-born populations on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and found that a majority of states gain economic benefit in one or more of four key categories.

Arizona ranked high overall in all four: immigrant workforce, socio-economic contribution, brain gain and innovators, and international students per capita. It fell short in one metric: median household income for the foreign-born population.

As Congress and President Donald Trump fail to negotiate meaningful immigration reform, millions of employees are left in the shadows or struggling with ineffective and outdated worker permit processes.

Industry and business leaders are understandably fed up, said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the largest manufacturing association in the U.S.  

Frustrated with inaction, NAM decided to take on the task of laying out a “commonsense”  framework for Congress that protects borders while opening arms to the millions of hard working, undocumented, tax-paying employees in the country. In Arizona alone, immigrant-led households paid $3.7 billion in federal taxes and $1.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2014, according to the most recent statistics available from the American Immigration Council.

“For too long, our leaders in Washington have failed to fix our broken immigration system,” Timmons states in the plan’s introduction. “Inaction has bred division, frustrated the American people, upended people’s lives and undermined our economic strength.”

The country’s economic future is at stake and it’s going to get worse, the NAM plan states.

Population growth in the nation is .62 percent, the lowest since 1937. Meanwhile, there are 6.9 million available jobs across sectors, close to 500,000 are in manufacturing and the next decade will present 4.6 million manufacturing jobs to fill.

NAM has devised a “commonsense” plan for reform that would provide a safe, legal and “compassionate” path for undocumented workers and their families, the plan states.

The 20-page document lays out detailed recommendations for reform in seven key areas including steps to:

  • Reform the legal immigration system to prioritize America’s workforce needs
  • Align non-immigrant visas and temporary worker programs with employer needs, and use the fees to fund STEM education programs
  •  Provide a permanent solution for undocumented workers and others, including Dreamers who were brought here as children and know no other home
  • Improve asylum and refugee programs for a more orderly and humane system
  • Strengthen border security with walls, barriers, personnel and technology

The framework provides a path forward for the undocumented population to stay in the U.S. after an orderly process of review that would include financial penalties for those who seek to become legal and deportation for those who choose to stay in the shadows, it states.

“No plan will please everyone. But this balanced approach, which we are providing to the White House and Congress, is a reasonable way forward to achieve lasting reform that bolsters our national security, offers compassion, and addresses economic and workforce realities. It will build a safer and stronger America,” Timmons states.

To read the report, go to A Way Forward.

To see the WalletHub study and state-by-state results, go to Economic Impact of Immigration.

Victoria Harker

Add comment

Subscribe to the Dry Heat

Get updates on the most important news delivered right to your email. Fully personalized options. No SPAM. Unsubscribe anytime.

Sign Me Up!

Let’s Get Social

Chamber Business News wants to connect with you. Follow us, tweet, share, post, comment... however you get social is the perfect way to connect.