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Immigrants are scapegoats for the problems that plague our society. Whether they are drugs, crime or socialist plots to overthrow the government, public discussion and political rhetoric point to immigrants as the purveyors of such despicable transgressions.

You might have heard their most heinous offenses: stealing American jobs and burdening taxpayers by using services without giving anything in return.

Let’s find the bottom line. “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” was published by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and analyzed how immigrants impacted the 2004 fiscal year in Arizona. The results were astounding.

The idea that immigrants — documented and undocumented — do not pay taxes is completely untrue. Even undocumented immigrants possess tremendous spending power that contributes greatly to our local and state tax revenues.

Consumer spending by documented immigrants generated approximately $460 million, according to the Udall study.

For undocumented immigrants, that number was $320 million. In total, the state tax revenue attributable to both documented and undocumented immigrants reached $2.4 billion, according to the Udall study.

After deducting the incremental costs incurred by education, healthcare and other services,  immigrants contribute $940 million dollars back to those services through state tax revenue.

As 14 percent of the Arizona workforce, immigrants have a positive impact that far outweighs baseless speculation of “drugs,” “crimes,” or “socialist plots.”

Moreover, while immigrants are only 13 percent of the overall population nationwide, they make up 18 percent of small business-owners nationwide, KJZZ reported in a June article, “Immigrant Owned Small Businesses Boosting Economy,” which highlights findings from a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The report finds that Mexicans own the most businesses, compared with their Latino counterparts. And interestingly, foreign-born Latinos own businesses at a rate higher than U.S. born, “as much as two and even three times more.”

Secondly, a study titled “Can Immigrants Save Small-Town America” published, reviews the long-term effects of Latino immigrants moving into the town of Hazelton, Pa. What was found is far from the increase in crime and over-burdening of services that many expect.

Latino immigrants leave a positive impact on the economy by moving into areas of the city that have become a drag on property values and suffer from depopulation.

“In large part, Latinos had come in and rehabilitated areas of the city that had been derelict for a long time. They revitalized it, they opened stores,” said Patrick Carr, the lead author of the study.

In parts of cities that suffer from falling school enrollments, depopulation and a decline in economic activity, immigrants move in to fill low-wage jobs and open businesses, reviving local economies that would otherwise fail.

Legislation crafted by the Arizona senate deterring immigrants is doing our economy a grave disservice. Now that you’ve been reintroduced to Arizonan immigrants, challenge the next person who claims they’re a burden on the economy.


Reach the columnist at Follow the columnist at @Da_Mills1.


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