Voters Concerned With Economy: Look Closely at Immigration

Research indicates that the economy matters most to American voters when electing their president. As immigration increasingly impacts the American economy, a deep understanding of its economic advantages is vital to critically analyzing candidates. An upcoming Supreme Court hearing on the the subject is amplifying the immigration conversation and responsible voters should tune in.

On April 18, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of US vs. Texas to discern the validity of President Obama's executive actions aimed to temporarily protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The two questionable programs DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) were signed into effect on November 20th, 2014. Shortly after, a coalition of 25 states led by Texas sued the federal government contending that Obama lacked legal authority to defer deportation of masses of immigrants. The 5th Circuit Court agreed with Texas and banned the programs from taking effect, escalating the matter to SCOTUS. Obama will argue that immigration enforcement is a federal matter upheld by existing laws granting the fed broad purview over deportation.

Several weeks ago, a cohort of influential California business leaders, led by tech titans Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, filed a brief with the Court offering powerful support for this "positive step" towards mending America's broken immigration system. The statement declared that "instead of inviting economic contributions of immigrants, our immigration enforcement policies have often inhibited the productivity of the US companies and made it harder for them to compete in the global markets." The brief cited that about one-fourth of all undocumented immigrants live in California and add about $130 billion to the states' GDP annually, an amount larger than the combined GDPs of 19 other states. This tremendous growth results when immigrants fill low and high level skill gaps in different fields. Immigrants founded 25 percent of high tech companies in the last decade and undocumented workers constitute 34 percent of farm laborers in California. Furthermore, without deportation relief or temporary visas from programs like DAPA and DACA, some companies incorporate undocumented workers using illegal practices that drive down wages, produce unhealthy work environments and generate unfair competition. These constraints hurt all workers in America.

As a whole, immigration increased the US GDP by $37 billion each year, a 2007 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors found. While some undocumented immigrants work off the books and pay lowers taxes, as of 2015, Latino purchasing power is somewhere between $1.5 and $1.7 trillion. In 2012 immigrants founded 42 percent of America's Fortune 500 companies. These companies subsequently created over ten million jobs and generated $4.5 trillion of annual revenue, about 30 percent of the US GDP.

Though Texas and other southern states like Florida and Tennessee feel burdened by immigration, the net benefit of a stabilized workforce, reduced deficits, job creation and increased tax revenues critically bolsters the American economy as it competes in the global marketplace. The emotionally driven and bombastically vocal minority complaints, fanned by Republican candidates like Trump, contesting (nay, detesting) immigration grossly deny the larger economic trends that irrefutably benefit the nation.

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