Anti-Immigration Policies Will be Detrimental to U.S. Economy and Workforce

Economists say immigrants are critical for the United States’ sustained economic growth.
Moses Frenck

President Donald Trump falsely equated undocumented immigrants with violent homicidal gang members during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, smearing a segment of the population economists say is critical for the United States’ sustained economic growth.

With the U.S. workforce at near zero growth and projected to grow at an average 0.3 percent annually in the coming years, studies indicate immigrants will be necessary to maintain any positive growth going forward.

“Immigrants will play the primary role in the future growth of the working-age population,” according to a Pew Research Center report published last year. “Without immigrants, there would be an estimated 18 million fewer working-age adults in the country in 2035 because of the dearth of U.S.-born children with U.S.-born parents.”

Anti-Immigration Policies Will be Detrimental to U.S. Economy and WorkforceWhile the president did propose a plan with a path to citizenship for a portion of qualifying undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, such a plan is a non-starter among immigration restrictionists in the Republican-controlled Congress, as well as with Democrats who will not sign on to a plan that’s tied to the building of a border wall.

Trump said his primary focus is on “America’s children, America’s struggling workers and America’s forgotten communities. Because Americans are dreamers too.” He said the nation needs “immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.”

However, according to multiple independent studies, the United States stands to lose hundreds of billions of dollars, stagnate its workforce and deplete a wealth of intellectual capital if it pursues proposed deportation goals.

Immigrants pay federal, state and local taxes; buy consumer goods; purchase cars and homes; and create companies and new jobs at a higher rate than the general population, and they have been the fastest contributors to employment growth.

Here are the facts:

  • The Center for American Progress estimates that “ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade and remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy.”
  • “Young immigrants eligible for DACA annually contribute $2 billion in state and local taxes, but this number would drop by nearly half without DACA protection,” according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). “Every state stands to lose considerable revenue if we do not maintain the protections and opportunities DACA has allowed.”
  • Employment rates increased by 36 percentage points after enrollment in DACA, from 51 percent of respondents employed to 87 percent, according to national survey of DACA recipients, per ITEP.
  • CAP data indicates that 91 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed. Among respondents age 25 and older, employment jumps to 93 percent.
  • According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, deporting those currently in DACA would cost over $60 billion in lost tax revenue and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
  • A study released last month by the nonpartisan Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) found that 43 percent of the 2017 Fortune 500 were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or child of an immigrant. “The occurrence of first- or second-generation immigrant founders is significantly higher among the largest Fortune 500 companies accounting for 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35 firms.”
  • According to CAE, firms founded by immigrants “are headquartered in 68 metropolitan areas across 33 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide and accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.”
  • Sixty percent of the top 25 U.S. technology companies by market value were co-founded by first- or second-generation immigrants, according to Kleiner Perkins’ 2017 Internet Trends report.
  • ITEP found that “5 percent of respondents started their own business after receiving DACA. Among respondents 25 years and older, this climbs to 8 percent. Among the American public as a whole, the rate of starting a business is 3.1 percent, meaning that DACA recipients are outpacing the general population in terms of business creation.”
(Originally published in DiversityInc Jan. 31, 2018.)