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NCLR report shows states that pass anti-immigrant laws pay a high cost

LatinaLista — The Greater Houston Partnership released a report yesterday at an immigration summit held at Rice University that confirmed what many in the Houston business community already knew — legalizing the area’s undocumented workers could act as its own little stimulus to the local economy.

Map shows which states accepted and rejected anti-immigrant legislation in 2011.

To be exact, according to the report, it would generate about $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue.

Stephen Klineberg, a sociology professor at Rice, said collecting taxes from illegal immigrants in Texas would amount to “a tremendous cost savings that would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the tax revenues of this city and this state.”

While the report estimates the potential tax gain from legalizing illegal immigrants already in the workforce, it does not estimate the costs to taxpayers for providing social services to the workers or their families. The report also assumes that the workers are not currently paying taxes under fake or stolen Social Security numbers.

Though Houston is like the rest of the nation in being forbidden to officially recognize the presence of undocumented workers, at least it’s in a state that hasn’t passed draconian anti-immigration laws that has hurt the state’s economy while trying to create an exodus among undocumented immigrants. Some states have passed infamous laws doing just that and in a new report published by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) it’s these kinds of laws that have business communities on edge.

In the report, The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011 the six states of Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina are suffering a backlash from various business sectors that relied on undocumented immigrants because of the legislation.

In the process, these states have terrorized their immigrant communities, tarnished their tourism industry and decimated some industries that played a pivotal role in their state’s economy.

For example, in Arizona, as a result of passing the anti-immigrant legislation SB 1070, the state has had to spend:

$250,000 to boost its image
$1.5 million in legal fees

In addition, the state lost:

$434 million in lost direct spending from conference attendees
8,472 jobs lost from conference cancellations and booking declines
$265.5 million in lost earnings
$794 million in lost economic output
$28.8 million in lost taxes

The trend that anti-immigrant legislation is a negative impact on a state’s businesses has been seen in Oklahoma and Alabama. In Oklahoma, the legislature is now trying to come up with ways to allow undocumented workers to work in the OK state and Alabama’s farmers have been giving their state legislators an “earful” over what the mean-spirited law has done to their harvests, businesses and the future of the state’s economy.

At a time of deep economic uncertainty, legislators should be mindful of the catastrophic effects that these bills would have on their economy. The negative consequences of Arizona-style legislation is real and being felt by businesses and major employers, further affirming the need to legalize, not criminalize, an essential workforce. — NCLR’s “The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011”

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