President Donald Trump announced three executive orders last week that dramatically change federal policy related to immigrants and refugees in the United States. More are expected in the near future. In light of these changes, we offer a compilation of some of the research on the important economic contributions made by immigrants and refugees.
- Unauthorized immigrants play an important role in the economy and pay Minnesota state and local taxes. Unauthorized immigrants pay an estimated $77 million in state and local taxes. Even though undocumented immigrants are ineligible for many services that taxes pay for, they are doing their part to support the state’s schools, roads and bridges, and other public services.
- Refugees are also important to our country’s labor force and economy. A report looking at Somali, Burmese, Hmong and Bosnian refugees showed that, once in the United States, refugee men and women join the labor force at the same – and in sometimes higher – rates than U.S.-born men and women, and a significant number become business owners. Refugees also integrate themselves into their communities by learning English, buying homes and becoming U.S. citizens.
- Actions that support immigrants and recognize the contributions that immigrants are already making have had positive results. Surveys have shown that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides temporary work authorization and relief from deportation for some unauthorized immigrants who came to this country as children, has enabled recipients to get better jobs and pursue advanced education. DACA recognizes the contributions that immigrants are already making, and enables them to better contribute to their communities.
Immigrants and refugees come to the United States seeking a better life and opportunity for themselves and their children, and we benefit from the contributions of immigrants and refugees in many ways. Here in Minnesota, with a tightening labor market and a projected labor shortage on the horizon, Minnesota’s future economic growth depends on adding more people to our workforce. We will increasingly rely on immigrants and refugees to fill those vital roles as employees, business owners and entrepreneurs. Our federal and state policies should reflect and support the positive contributions made by immigrants now and for a strong economic future.