ST. PAUL (Aug. 9, 2013) — It’s August and Congress is now in recess as members return to their home districts to talk to constituents and hear about issues perceived as most critical to the country. And, just a few days ago, the White House released data concerning the economic impact of comprehensive immigration reform on each of the United States and the country as a whole. It was both intriguing and informative to see how significant the simple passage of a comprehensive immigration bill would be for Minnesota and the country at large.
Consider, for example, the following:
•Immigrants make a significant contribution to Minnesota’s economy with 8.6 percent foreign-born individuals belonging to its labor force.
•Regional Economic Models, Inc. has predicted that passage of a comprehensive immigration legislative package such as the Senate’s bill (S.744) would have an immediate impact on our state’s economy with output increased by $604 million and 6,549 jobs created in 2014 alone while increasing economic output by about $4.1 billion by 2045.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, national real GDP would increase by 3.3 percent by 2023 and 5.4 percent by 2033. That means the nation’s economic output would increase by about $700 billion in 2023 and $1.4 trillion in 2033.
•Roughly 5.7 percent of Minnesota’s business owners are immigrants who generate about $722 million in annual income. In 2007, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, immigrant-owned small businesses in the United States produced $776 billion in receipts while employing about 4.7 million people.
John Arensmeyer, Small Business Majority, points out that “(s)mall business owners understand that fixing our country’s immigration system will help them foster better workforces, which will bolster their bottom lines and our economy as a whole.”
•In addition, immigrants or their children formed 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. “These American companies represent 7 of the 10 most valuable brands globally, collectively employ more than 10 million people and generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion.” Significantly, the Partnership for a New American Economy notes that immigrants started 28 percent of the country’s new businesses in 2011, notwithstanding the fact that immigrants comprised only 13 percent of our nation’s population.
•The Congressional Budget Office projects that passage of the Senate immigration bill would increase the nation’s labor force by 3.5 percent by 2023 and 5 percent by 2033, increasing capital investment as well as productivity and overall average wages.
•Educationally, 39.6 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math graduates from our state’s most research-intensive schools hail from other countries. And, 57.8 percent of Minnesota’s engineering PhDs are also foreign-born.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has emphatically stated that “America cannot compete and win in a global economy without the world’s best talent, hardest workers, or biggest dreamers.”
•Between the years, 2007 and 2011, approximately 12 percent of all farmworkers on the state’s 80,992 farms were not U.S. citizens. Those farms sell approximately $13.2 billion in agricultural products.
The American Farm Bureau has declared that “(t)he Senate’s passage today of a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision is welcomed by American’s farmers and ranchers…A comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation is long overdue.”
•Passage of comprehensive immigration legislation such as the Senate bill will help reduce the federal budget over the next 20 years by as much as $850 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Furthermore, the Office of the Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration, projects that as much as $300 billion will be added to the Social Security Trust Fund over the next 10 years, serving to improve Social Security’s finances and extending its solvency.
•Immigrants have increased home values in Minnesota between 2000 and 2010. In Hennepin County alone, average median home values increased by $3,776.
The American Society/Council for the Americas and Partnership for a New American Economy found that immigration has had a startling impact on the housing market throughout the country. Roughly 40 million immigrants have created $3.7 trillion in housing wealth.
Author Mark Twain has been attributed to have declared that “figures don’t lie but liars figure” while many others have bemoaned the fact that anyone can support any claim with any form of statistics. This is without doubt true and we must be on a constant vigil to the barrage of data, statistics, and figures we face on a daily basis. But, here, I think, we have information prepared by nonpartisan groups and agencies seeking to bring clarity to an issue that continues to hound us by its failure to be resolved.
Support for passage of comprehensive immigration reform is both broad and bipartisan with a majority of Americans supporting passage this year. With Congress on recess this month, now is a good time to let members know that comprehensive immigration reform is good for us individually and as a nation.
It’s only common sense.
R. Mark Frey is a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney who has been practicing immigration law exclusively for almost 25 years with an emphasis on political asylum, family immigration, naturalization, and removal.