Amid ongoing claims that rising immigration threatens the U.S. economy, a new study finds that immigrants are making a major economic impact in Texas. In the borderland city of El Paso, where more than 200,000 immigrants reside, that impact includes contributing more than $8 billion to the local economy.
“El Paso has always been a city of immigrants,” says Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance. “It’s part of our history and our DNA. Today, immigrants are contributing to our economy in a big way.”
The recently released American Immigration Council study — published in partnership with Texans for Economic Growth, the Borderplex Alliance and Texas Association of Business — shows that in 2019, immigrant households in El Paso contributed $8.6 billion to the metro area’s gross domestic product.
The research also shows that local immigrants – over 90% of whom are from Mexico – paid $591.8 million in taxes, with state and local taxing entities receiving about $440.7 million in tax revenue. Immigrant households, whom the analysis found earned about $4.8 billion in income, were left with about $3.8 billion in spending power.
The El Paso economic impact study highlights “why commonsense immigration reforms are crucial to the continued economic success of Texas,” says Chelsie Kramer, Texas state organizer for the American Immigration Council of Texas for Economic Growth.
Tom Fullerton, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at El Paso, says immigration tends to generate economic growth and net benefits for most regions. El Paso is no outlier.
“Local complaints regarding international immigration have tended to increase during periods of high unemployment,” he says. “Local policymakers have also complained, at least episodically, that international migrants also make it difficult to improve regional labor force quality because a relatively high percentage of the undocumented migrants have not graduated from high school.”
The economic impact study was released as Texas, and the city of El Paso, receive hundreds of migrants daily who are trying to enter the United States. Some are being released to the city’s streets as federal holding facilities and nonprofit shelters are beyond capacity.
By CHRISTIAN BETANCOURT for Next City
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