Guess Who’s Driving The Texas Economy?

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While often times immigration is discussed as a social issue, it is important to remember and point out the tremendous economic impact immigrants have on our state. A newly released report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities has gone to show just how big of a contribution immigrants truly provide to the Texas economy. (Spoiler alert: You may not want to vote for the Texas GOP’s anti-immigrant party platforms this election.)

The economic data gathered by the nonpartisan policy institute indicates “immigrants in Texas are major drivers of the state’s economy.” The report provides “a snapshot of immigrants and their contributions to the economic and social fabric of the state.”

Below are some of their key findings:

    One in six Texans is an immigrant. Over 4.2 million immigrants currently live in Texas.
    – One-third of immigrants in Texas are naturalized U.S. citizens, legally eligible to vote. An additional one-third are legal permanent residents.
    – Almost 2 million U.S.-born Texas children belong to “Mixed-Status Families,” having at least one parent that is undocumented.
    – “Texas immigrants make up a fifth of the state’s overall population of prime working age adults (16 -64).”
    – “Texas is home to the 4th largest highly educated/skilled immigrant workforce in the country after California, New York, and Florida.”
    – “In Texas, nearly two in five immigrants work in white-collar jobs, with an equal share (37 percent) working in blue-collar jobs.”
    – “Immigrants contributed $65 billion in economic output to the state in terms of wages, salary, and business earnings in 2011.
    – “Small businesses owned by immigrants contributed $4.4 billion in earnings to the Texas economy” that same year.

Even though immigrants in Texas contribute billions of dollars to our state’s economy, many immigrant families struggle with poverty. According to the same report: “A quarter of all Texas immigrants live below the poverty line compared to 17.2 percent of U.S.-born Texans living in poverty.” Several of these poverty issues could potentially be relieved through guest worker programs and allowing immigrants to earn a driver’s license — two platforms Texas Republicans are completely against.

Texas Republicans are often heard to argue that immigrants are only here “taking free stuff from us.” Not sure how contributing over $65 billion in economic output to our state could possible mean “taking free stuff.”

For additional information, you can read the full report here.

Follow Omar on Twitter at @AraizaTX.


About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. He is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Omar tweets from @AraizaTX.

1 Comment

  1. My contention with immigration is about policy and how it is used as a corporate tool–not the immigrants themselves who are just trying to better their lives like any person would.
    But I get leery of false truths and cheerleading arguments that don’t actually say anything, as is the case with your article.  Without context, your “key findings” are worthless.  Is $65 billion good?  For any one person, sure.  For a state the size of Texas, I have no idea.  How does “wages, salary and business earnings” compare to gross state product?  For example, if they are the same, then the $65 billion figure is ABYSMAL, with over 20% of the working population creating 5% of the $1.3 trillion GSP that year.
    It is also suspicious that the percentage of immigrant-owned and native-owned businesses total 100%.  Many businesses have multiple owners.  Many biased studies like those EPI, NFAP and PNAE churn out conveniently count fractional inclusion of their preferred population as full credit.
    Showing how immigrants account for an exceptional proportion of the working age compared to proportion of population, hides the fact that the majority of their children (5 in 6 if I recall correctly) are born in the US–counting them conveniently against the worthless native-born non-working population.
    Perhaps it is my own ignorance to Texas demographics, but I can’t help but wonder how the post appearing on the same site today, “More Than 1 in 6 Texans Live in Poverty” correlates to the message in yours.
    Your intent may be spot on.  But what you’ve stated is nothing better than half-truths until context is given.

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