State-by-State Reports: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

— by Megan Slack, August 01, 2013

America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. But our nation’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the U.S. economy or American  families.

Commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs. Independent studies affirm that commonsense immigration reform will increase economic growth by adding more high-demand workers to the labor force, increasing capital investment and overall productivity, and leading to greater numbers of entrepreneurs starting companies in the U.S.

Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree –  and it’s why a bipartisan, diverse coalition of stakeholders have come together to urge Congress to act now to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from unauthorized workers and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. The Senate recently passed a bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform bill would do just that – and it’s time for the House of Representations to join them in taking action to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.

In addition to giving a significant boost to our national economy, commonsense immigration reform will also generate important economic benefits in each state, from increasing workers’ wages and generating new tax revenue to strengthening the local industries that are the backbone of states’ economies. The new state by state reports below detail how just how immigration reform would strengthen the economy and create jobs all regions of our country.

We must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive way. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.


Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Hawaii  
Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming  

Reprinted from The White House Blog.  For more information:


2 thoughts on “State-by-State Reports: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

    • HumboldtDems 2013-08-05 / 13:21

      Apparently our DEMOCRATIC site has picked up a REICH-WING TROLL trying to get us to pawn off their totally racist and protectionist garbage on our readership. Their argument is that to allow a path to citizenship will create a huge new moocher-class of sub-citizens out to take your hard-earned monies. Did that happen with the Irish, with the Chinese, with any other group of immigrants who came to our country? NO! And it won’t happen with these folks either, regardless of what Rep. Steve King (R-IA) thinks he personally knows about brown-skinned Hispanics with calves the size of cantaloupes.

      Will the Gang of 8’s bill reduce the deficit? YES. The official score in the official scoring window is for $197 billion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years.

      Isn’t it a cop-out to do a 10-year estimate? Aren’t we just pushing costs into the long term? NO. Ten-year scores are canonical for procedural reasons, but the CBO also offered a provisional score for the next 10 years and found increasing deficit reduction punch, to the tune of about $700 billion.

      Is the CBO actually any good at estimating these things? Shouldn’t I feel free to ignore scores that contradict my prior partisan commitments? Feel free to do what you like! But here’s the truth. The CBO’s 10-year point forecasts of where the deficit will be are terribly inaccurate because to do these forecasts accurately you would have to do 10-year macroeconomic forecasts accurately. Nobody knows how to do this and if you did figure out a way to do it accurately you’d quit your job at the CBO and go work on Wall Street. My suspicion, however, is that it’s actually impossible. But if you look back at the CBO’s track record, they’re quite good at scoring the budgetary impact of legislative changes. Long story short, there’s considerable uncertainty about these things, but this counts as real evidence.

      What’s all this I’ve heard about “dynamic scoring”? Mostly it’s just people being cute. Standard CBO practice when evaluating legislation is to look at pure budgetary impacts without considering the impact on economic growth. But since the essence of immigration reform is to alter the number of people residing in the United States, applying a pure static score would be nonsensical. In a static score all you’d get is the cost of extra border enforcement minus the revenue generated by guest worker application fees. Obviously the real fiscal costs relate to the presence of extra people in the country and the real revenue benefits also relate to the presence of extra people in the country, so the CBO has to account for the fact that immigration reform grows the population and the tax base.

      So is this the same “dynamic scoring” conservatives like when it comes to taxes? No. The canonical dynamic scoring controversy is that conservatives don’t like static scores of the fiscal cost of tax cuts because they believe tax cuts induce economic growth that boosts revenue. To do the kind of dynamic scoring conservatives want, you’d need to be able to accurately and comprehensively model the systemic economic consequences of a change in tax policy. Or, in this case, immigration policy. And then you could look at the budgetary impact of those systematic changes. But this is not the way the CBO scored the immigration bill, and it’s not the way they score tax bills either.

      But did they look at the larger economic consequences? They did in this exciting annex. It’s worth emphasizing that the ferocious immigration debate tends to obscure the extent to which immigration economics is not actually controversial. Read the work of restrictionists’ favorite economist and even he concedes that increased immigration raises average nominal incomes for native-born Americans. It is also beyond dispute that the price impact of immigration tends to raise real incomes for native-born Americans. The controversies are about exactly how are the gains distributed and what is their scale.

      So this means the CBO is underestimating the level of deficit reduction, right? Right. In addition to making the economy larger by adding people, reform will raise average incomes. Since America has a progressive tax-and-transfer system, higher average incomes reduce the deficit.

      And aren’t we supposed to calculate deficits as a share of GDP? Yes. A law that increased GDP in the 10- and 20-year horizons improves the deficit picture as long as it grows the deficit more slowly than it grows the economy. In other words, if you look at the deficit impact of immigration reform as a ratio it looks even better.

      Deficit blah blah blah—isn’t this a terrible way to think about the issue? Sort of. Deficits are in, so we’re talking about deficits. But the important thing is that this legislation decreases the deficit by growing the economy. It’s not an austerity measure. It’s a growth measure. And it’s structured in a sustainable way. Another way to think about it is this. Between population aging and rising health care costs, the status quo U.S. welfare state does not appear to be fully sustainable over the long term. The CBO is telling us that this immigration bill will increase the sustainability of our social safety net. That’s important because the key economic criticism of the bill is its allegedly malignant distributional impact on working-class Americans. The fact that comprehensive immigration reform will make it easier for working-class Americans to get generous Social Security and Medicare benefits when they retire is an important counterpoint to this narrative. It’s not a genuinely Pareto Optimal legislative proposal that will benefit every single person in the country, but the existence of federal retirement programs ensures that the benefits are quite widely spread.

      Further References:

    • Congressional Budget Office Reports re: Immigration Reform
    • Examining the Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of the Senate Immigration Bill
    • Why Immigration Reform Might Actually Reduce Deficits

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