HARRISBURG- Two new reports released in the last month show the ongoing benefit of immigration to Pennsylvania and the country, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said in a statement today. A study released by The Cato Institute last week and a report from The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) released in July directly contradict a report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) claiming that undocumented immigrants are a drag on the commonwealth's and the nation's pocketbooks.
"The data from Cato and from IPC indicates what economists have said for years, that immigration is an economic benefit for the country," said Andy Hoover, legislative director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "FAIR is an organization that wants all immigration restricted, so it's no surprise that they would distort the numbers to benefit their ideology."
While FAIR claimed in its report released last month that undocumented immigrants cost significant taxpayer dollars, IPC answered those claims by noting that 91 percent of the costs reported come from K-12 education for the children of those immigrants and that 73 percent of the children are born in the United States. IPC also faulted the FAIR report for not considering the positive economic input of undocumented immigrants as consumers.
"Let's have an open and honest debate about immigration," Hoover said. "Distorting numbers gets us nowhere, and legislators who quote these numbers do a disservice to their constituents and to the commonwealth."
In its report, IPC noted that the combined buying power of Asians and Latinos in Pennsylvania is $22.6 billion. IPC also reported that removing all undocumented immigrants from the commonwealth would cost Pennsylvania $5.3 billion in expenditures, $2.3 billion in economic output, and more than 27,000 jobs, citing a 2008 report by the Perryman Group.
"We need strong state and federal immigration policies that welcome newcomers, respect due process rights enshrined in our Constitution, and protect against discrimination based on race and ethnicity," Hoover said. "An approach that makes life harder on immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, is bad news for Pennsylvania."
The Cato Institute study, which was released on Thursday, found that an enforcement-only approach to immigration has a negative impact on the household income of all Americans. Reducing low-skill immigrant labor leads to losses in economic output and job opportunities for more-skilled workers, Cato reported.