In America, 11 million undocumented immigrants are living on the outskirts of society. Of those 11 million, 95,000 live in Ohio. Many of these immigrant have been in the United States for more than 10 years and they have been waiting for a legal pathway to citizenship. On November 20, 2014, they got some good news. President Obama announced a series of executive actions to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. The executive actions included the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the introduction of a new program for parents called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
Read more about Immigrant Rights – Road to Citizenship on ACLU National’s website.
Unfortunately, 26 states filed a lawsuit against President Obama’s executive actions. A federal judge in Texas blocked President Obama’s executive actions from taking effect until the lawsuit is resolved, putting undocumented immigrants in a state of limbo once again. Ohio was one of the 26 states. In this country, we have a tendency to stigmatize immigrants and portray them as a negative force within our society. We fail to focus on the economic, social, and cultural contributions they make to our communities. There is especially a lot of misinformation around the economic argument. People think that immigrants take away jobs from American citizens, are a drain on the federal government, and worsen our economy. The data in Ohio points to the contrary. The Contribution of Legal Immigrants to Ohio Numerous studies and reports show that immigrants contribute to our economy in a positive way by creating new jobs, bringing in additional revenue, and turning dilapidated areas into growth engines:
- Ohio is home to 477,337 immigrants, just over 4 percent of the state’s population.
- Between 2006 and 2010, these immigrants have founded 20,768 businesses in Ohio.
- In 2010 alone, new immigrant businesses had a net total income of $1.3 billion, which is 5.7% of the state’s total net business income.
Furthermore, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business, there were 18,198 Asian-owned businesses with 51,748 employees and 9,722 Latino-owned businesses with 11,562 employees in 2007. Through these businesses, immigrants do not only add revenue and jobs to our economy, but also revitalize the cultural and social fabric of our society. From 2000 to 2010, for example, the presence of immigrants increased the average prices of homes by $4,295 in Franklin County and $1,010 in Butler County. The Contribution of Undocumented Immigrants to Ohio Of the 95,000 undocumented immigrants in Ohio, 65,000 of them are part of the state workforce. In 2010, undocumented immigrants paid $72.8 million in state and local taxes: $13.9 million in state income taxes, $6.3 million in property taxes, and $52.6 million in sales taxes. This may come as a surprise to many Ohioans, but the reality is that undocumented immigrants are working and paying plenty of taxes here in Ohio. If they are given legal status, the amount of state and local taxes paid by them would increase to $95 million. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 24,000 undocumented immigrants in Ohio are eligible for DAPA while 10,000 are eligible for DACA. If President Obama’s executive actions were implemented, Ohio’s gross state product would grow anywhere from $3 billion to $7.1 billion over the next 10 years. In addition, the eligible immigrants under DACA and DAPA would add another $41 million in tax revenue over the next five years. However, if all of the unauthorized immigrants were deported from Ohio, 25,019 jobs would be lost, $4 billion would be lost in economic activity, and the gross state product would decrease by $1.8 billion. Looking at these numbers, one would think that Ohio would support President Obama’s executive actions. This isn’t to say that President Obama’s executive actions are a “complete solution” to the immigration issue in our country, but it is a step in the right direction. However, Ohio has once again chosen to play politics over doing the right thing.