This New American Economy study of immigration has been going around:
Though it is our nation’s smallest state, Rhode Island is home to almost 140,000 immigrants. The state’s immigrants are mostly of working age and play a valuable role in both the manufacturing and software industries. They are also bolstering the housing market by buying the wave of homes coming on the market as baby boomers retire; all of these positive contributions are critical to the success of Rhode Island’s economy.
For the most part, this has been deployed as part of the mainstream effort to blur lines on immigration, proclaiming the value of immigrants generally. That has always been a distortion of the debate; I don’t know anybody who objects to controlled immigration that takes account of the national interest and emphasizes assimilation. The first objection people have is to illegal immigration, and the (distant) second objection is to indiscriminate legal immigration that bolsters welfare roles and puts downward pressure on low-end wages.
With respect to illegal immigrants, note that, overall, immigrants in Rhode Island pay $886.1 million in state and federal taxes, based on income of $3,500 million. That’s 25.3%. By contrast, illegal immigrants pay $43.7 million on income of $365.2 million, which is 12.0% — less than half the rate for all immigrants. (The proportion for state taxes is roughly the same as taxes overall.) Note that the numbers for legal immigrants would be substantially more positive than the presented numbers, because illegal immigrants account for 20% of them and bring the numbers down.
Those on the political Left might say that this proves that illegal immigrants should be normalized so they’ll pay more taxes, but the type of work they do is different, as is their propensity to need financial assistance. The New American Economy study (surprise, surprise) doesn’t give information on welfare programs and other public expenditures (such as for education), but that’d probably be higher for the illegals, too.
Rhode Island should refocus immigration policy on those who contribute the most, certainly until our employment situation is no longer stagnant.