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Cost of Doing Nothing: 193,000 Fewer Jobs in Texas Because of Failure to Pass Immigration Reform

by: Omar Araiza

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 11:00 AM CDT

Whoever said Republicans only care most about fiscal matters and Democrats about social issues has not looked at the new data published by the Immigration Policy Center.

While Republican leadership recklessly leads the way to the first US government shut down in 17 years -- by virtually doing absolutely nothing on the issue of immigration reform -- it is costing our state alone 193,000 jobs Texas would otherwise have had members of Congress passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill instead.

That's the cost of doing nothing.

In terms of jobs, anyway. Because the costs are more. Numbers show doing nothing concerning immigration reform is also costing us billions of dollars, thousands of lives being lost, and many other missed opportunities.

Take a look at the new data and just how much delaying reform is costing Texas below the jump.

The Cost in Dollars:
The immigration-enforcement budget has massively increased since the early 1990s, but has not proven effective at deterring unauthorized immigration.

Since 1993, when the current strategy of concentrated border enforcement was first rolled out along the U.S.-Mexico border, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased ten-fold, from $363 million to more than $3.5 billion.

Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, the budget of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-the parent agency of the Border Patrol within DHS-has doubled from $5.9 billion to $11.9 billion per year [Figure 2].

In addition, pending on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the interior-enforcement counterpart to CBP within DHS, has grown 73 percent, from $3.3 billion since its inception to $5.9 billion today [Figure 2].

Increased enforcement spending without a corresponding effort to increase legal immigration has precipitated a tripling in the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States since 1990.

The Cost in Lives:
Over the past two decades, over five thousand of migrants have died while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as they tried to reach jobs and family members in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, 5,570 migrants died while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from FY 1998 to 2012 [Figure 3].

As border-enforcement resources were concentrated in California and Texas beginning in the early 1990s, more and more migrants began crossing into the United States through Arizona. As a result, more lost their lives in Arizona as well (2,238 from FY 1990 to 2012). In Texas, Border Patrol reported 271 deaths during the FY of 2012.

Tens of thousands of families have been torn apart by the deportation of immigrant parents with U.S.-born children.
According to ICE data analyzed by the DHS Office of Inspector General, 108,434 immigrants with U.S.-citizen children were removed from the United States between FY 1998 and 2007 [Figure 5]. The majority were removed for immigration violations.

ICE does not collect data on what becomes of the U.S.-born children in these cases.

According to DHS, 46,486 parents of U.S.-citizen children were removed from the United States during the first six months of FY 2011, accounting for over 20 percent of all individuals deported during that period.

The Applied Research Center estimates that approximately 5,100 children with a detained or deported parent were in the public child welfare system in 2011.

The Cost in Missed Opportunities:
If the federal government had already created a legalization program for unauthorized immigrants now in the country, the U.S. economy would have received a much-needed boost: more tax revenue, more consumer buying power, and more jobs.

Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, founding director of the North American Integration and Development Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimates that in just the first three years following legalization, the "higher earning power of newly legalized workers translates into an increase in net personal income of $30 to $36 billion, which would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue. Moreover, an increase in personal income of this scale would generate consumer spending sufficient to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs."

In general, the study found that "removing the uncertainty of unauthorized status allows legalized immigrants to earn higher wages and move into higher-paying occupations, and also encourages them to invest more in their own education, open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses."

Texas would be the second most benefited state in the country, following only the state of California.

The wages of unauthorized workers would increase by $9.7 billion, generating an additional $4.1 billion in new tax revenue and creating 193,000 new jobs.

You can take a look at the complete numbers and figures by the Immigration Policy Center here.

Follow can follow me on Twitter at @AraizaTX

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