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The State of Texas Makes It Official: Undocumented Contribute More to State Revenues than Receive in Services

LatinaLista — A day after Latina Lista reported on the attempts by a Texas lawmaker to revoke American citizenship of children born in the United States of undocumented immigrants comes a “Special Report” from the state’s comptroller that undocumented immigrants contribute more to the state coffers than any services they receive.

Billed as the first time any state has done a comprehensive financial analysis of the impact of undocumented immigrants on a state’s budget and economy, the report, Undocumented Immigrants in Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy
December 2006,
finds that:

The absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received. However, local governments bore the burden of $1.44 billion in uncompensated health care costs and local law enforcement costs not paid for by the state.

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn

In its summary, the report carries an interesting chart. It chronicles what the effects would be on the Texas economy if 1.4 million undocumented immigrants, roughly 6 percent of the population, were to be removed.

Among their findings is that there would be $17.7 billion lost in the total gross regional product; $66.5 million lost in exports to the rest of the world and a labor force loss of 714,100 workers.

And for those who still insist on parroting the rhetoric that the undocumented don’t pay taxes:

The Comptroller estimates that undocumented immigrants paid more than $513 million in fiscal 2005 in local taxes, including city, county and special district sales and property taxes.

Unfortunately, what is all too clear from this report and which has been the most common reason driving towns across the country into adopting overly harsh ordinances regarding undocumented immigrants, is the fact that local communities and hospitals must bear the brunt of the costs.

It was something that a group of sheriffs from several border communities tried to explain to Congress last summer.

The Southwest Border Sheriffs Coalition, formed by several gun-toting public servants more comfortable keeping the peace along the US/Mexican border than wandering the marble halls of Congress, went to appear before Congressional leaders to plead their case for money to help pay for all the extra work and costs it took to pick up the undocumented and fight the violent drug gangs crossing the border.

What did the sheriffs get for all their trouble?

A border wall.

Rumor has it that not too many sheriffs were happy with that decision — especially when Congressional leaders used the sheriffs to promote their own agenda rather than listening and hearing what was really needed.

Now with speculation that the border wall will never become a reality in the way those Congressmen who created the bill thought it would be, local communities are back at square one.

Yet, this report gives Texas the necessary data to take some positive actions to rectify the costburdenn many local communities are feeling.

For example, since there is a small surplus in state revenues courtesy of undocumented immigrants, why not put that surplus in a special fund to be doled out proportionately to local communities to help pay their costs of covering undocumented immigrants?

No, it wouldn’t pay the entire amount but anything would be better than nothing.

What this report has proven is that it is possible to separate the misinformation with analytical facts and use that information in a constructive manner to relieve the situation, at least in a small way.

That is, unless politicians resort to playing the oldest political game in the world that is used to justify decisive decisions and surrender responsibility — it’s called the Blame Game.

It is what is driving towns like Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazelton, Pennsylvania, among others, to pass harsh ordinances to drive out undocumented immigrants from their communities.

As these towns like to say, “Because the federal government hasn’t taken the responsibility to do something about illegal immigration, we mustÂ…”

More states need to do a similar report as Texas to find what the true costs and benefits are to their states from undocumented immigrants.

Only then can the politicians who insist on repeating this misinformation be weeded out and recognized for the frauds that they are, and a real address of the situation can begin without intimidating and belittling a group that has proven in at least one state that they come to work for a better life.

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