A new study released by the Immigration Policy Center for tax day shows that at least half of the undocumented immigrants in this country pay income taxes. Add that to the sales and property taxes that those undocumented persons also pay and undocumented immigrants pay more in taxes than most wealthy Americans.
The total amount of tax revenue collected in state and local taxes is approximately $11.2 billion, including $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.
The numbers don’t come as much of a surprise to those who track immigration policy. According to Wendy Sefsaf, communications director for the American Immigration Council, the current political movement to restrict, criminalize and punish immigrants will come at a steep price to states.
According to Sefsaf “[t]he restrictionist movement in the U.S. spends all their time letting everyone know how much [undocumented immigrants] cost us, and they try to ignore the fact that they contribute. We are not trying to say there are not costs associated with people. There are costs associated with everyone. But we are trying to balance out the debate.”
States like Florida, for example, which collects about $806.8 million from unauthorized immigrants and does not have a state income tax would certainly feel the impact should a significant amount of that population leave. That revenue comes from immigrants buying groceries, rent and other necessities subject to sales and property taxes.
The bottom line is to suggest that undocumented immigrants are nothing but a revenue suck on states is simply wrong. While that will likely not change the conversation for those who have committed to making attacking immigrants the wedge issue of the moment, as Sefsaf notes, the only way to have an honest conversation about changing immigration policy is with a full set of facts.
photo courtesy of Barnaby via Flickr