What’s at Stake in Mass Deportation for New York State

March 2nd, 2017
What’s at Stake in Mass Deportation for New York State


"Brick Oven Bread bakery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn," New Women New Yorkers (NWNY)

The Fiscal Policy Institute has released a new brief on New York State immigrants’ economic contributions. The brief examines the significance of immigrants to our economies, and serves as an effective counterpoint to anti-immigrant economic claims. Arguments that immigrants are a drain on our country’s economy or sap public benefits must be countered with data. In fact, according to the FPI’s report, New York State’s 817,000 undocumented immigrants make immense contributions to the state’s economy.

Undocumented immigrants make up 5% of New York State’s labor force, according to the report, and contribute 40 billion dollars to the state’s GDP. Mass deportation would wreak havoc by eliminating a significant chunk of the workforce in New York. Undocumented immigrants make up higher percentages of the workforce in specific industries, including 9% of agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; 9% of construction; 11% of leisure and hospitality; and more. These industries would suffer greater impact under mass deportation.

Undocumented immigrants also contribute significantly to state taxes. A national study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITPC), cited in FPI’s report, found that undocumented immigrants pay 1.1 billion dollars in taxes in New York State. About half of undocumented immigrants pay taxes using ITIN numbers. Undocumented immigrants also pay sales tax, help cover landlords’ tax payments with their rent, and more. ITPC found that in New York, unauthorized immigrants pay $565 million in sales taxes (and related excise taxes), $183 million in personal income tax, and $355 million in property tax.

The report notes that these statistics cover the minimum possible impact of removing immigrants from the economy. This is because the costs of removing immigrants - hiring and training a deportation force, performing workplace and home raids, etc., must also be considered. The drop in GDP that would result from losing 40 billion dollars of immigrant labor is almost equivalent to the drop in GDP that occurred during the Recession.

We value immigrants because they are human beings first and foremost, and because as human beings they have inalienable rights, dignity, and value. Attempts to reduce immigrants to their economic contributions are dehumanizing. However, it is important to acknowledge the unique contributions that immigrants make to our country, and these include economic contributions. Those who claim immigrants make no positive contributions to our society are wrong, and the Fiscal Policy Institute’s new report helps us to further debunk such claims.

You can find Fiscal Policy Institute’s new report HERE.