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Tue, Feb

'An Invasion... of Economic Growth': CBO Says Immigrants Will Boost US GDP, Tax Revenue

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UNDOCUMENTED - As members of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday battled over a bipartisan security package containing "chaotic and cruel" border policies, a nonpartisan federal agency highlighted the economic benefits of immigration's impact on the labor force.

Based on 10-year projections, "the labor force in 2033 is larger by 5.2 million people, mostly because of higher net immigration," Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Phill Swagel said in a statement. "As a result of those changes in the labor force, we estimate that, from 2023 to 2034, GDP will be greater by about $7 trillion and revenues will be greater by about $1 trillion than they would have been otherwise."

Those are some key takeaways from a new CBO report, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2024 to 2034.

Although, as The Washington Post's Jeff Stein pointed out, "it does not take into account any legislation that Congress may or may not approve," the immigration-related projection still caught the attention of several politicians and observers.

"Your yearly reminder that undocumented immigrants pay roughly $12 billion in taxes every year—and contribute far more than they receive in benefits!" declared Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett. 

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found in 2017 that undocumented immigrants contribute an estimated $11.74 billion a year to state and local taxes. CNN reported last year that they contribute billions more to federal tax revenue by filing with individual taxpayer identification numbers.

The new CBO report notably contradicts a GOP talking point—as Republicans in Congress are suddenly killing a border package they have demanded for months, seemingly to benefit the presidential campaign of former President Donald Trump. 

As legal analyst and former prosecutor Eric Lisann said in response to the report, "To be clear the prevailing discourse when Republicans discuss immigration is that immigration is a significant net drain on the economy."

Democratic New York City Comptroller Brad Landerstressed that "immigration benefits our economy. Immigrant New Yorkers are more likely to be employed and more likely to create jobs by starting businesses. Instead of scapegoating, we need stronger management to help asylum-seekers file asylum applications and get work authorizations."

Democrats in Congress—particularly those who have blasted the GOP's immigration policy demands—were also quick to weigh in.

"Turns out immigrants arent' 'takers' after all—they're givers to the U.S. economy and essential to a sustainable future, especially if we want elder generations to age with dignity," said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Fellow "Squad" member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali war refugee, suggested the CBO's report "is not helpful to all the fearmongers in the Senate and House. Clearly immigrants have and will always be an asset in our economy."

Sharing the findings on social media, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) wrote, "This is for GOP folks screaming anti-immigrant lies about immigrants draining our economy as well as Dems who should defend immigrants and push for humane immigration reforms rather than GOP enforcement-only strategies: Immigrants strengthen our economy, communities, and country."

U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) also urged her colleagues to circulate the information, saying: "So immigrants helped grow our economy? Sure doesn't fit the narrative that Republicans are selling. Democrats need to start standing on these facts instead of negotiating with extremists who are scapegoating our immigrant communities."

In the upper chamber on Wednesday, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) was one of few progressive members who opposed the package—and he made clear his opposition to the border policies also widely decried by rights groups nationwide. 

Padilla also noted the CBO report, saying, "Your reminder that while Republicans are hell-bent on villainizing immigrants, immigration is BOOSTING our economy."

 

(Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams where this was first published.)