Where Immigrants Are Going In Texas
For years, Texas has been one of the most popular destinations for immigrants to the United States. In fact, our state's economy, from workforce to education, is greatly fueled by immigrants. A quarter of all business owners in Texas are immigrants, according to findings from the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Enterprise Institute.
As the November election approaches and as the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States has become one of the most discussed topics of the election cycle, it's important to take a look at how immigration reform may impact our state in particular.
So, which parts of Texas stand to be most impacted by a sweeping reform?
Here's a quick look at the counties that are home to the most immigrants in Texas, according to the Office of the State Demographer:
Harris County, the most populous in Texas, should probably come as no surprise as being the primary destination for immigrants. According to the office, 32,608 foreign-born international migrants were received in Houston and the surrounding suburbs. It is also estimated that over 370,000 undocumented immigrants live in the area.
Dallas County is a distant second, counting about half the amount of legal immigrants at 15,379. Yet, it rivals Harris County with about 242,000 undocumented immigrants.
"The 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States collectively paid $11.64 billion in state and local taxes," explains the website for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
"Regardless of the politically contentious nature of immigration reform, the data show undocumented immigrants greatly contribute to our nation's economy, not just in labor but also with tax dollars," said Meg Wiehe, one of ITEP's directors.
So, how would Texas be impacted should sweeping reform be put into effect?
It's been ten years since anyone undertook a comprehensive study to find out whether undocumented immigrants help or hurt the state.
That study estimated that deporting all undocumented immigrants living in Texas in 2005 would have cost the state about $17.7 billion in gross domestic product. It also showed that the state collected more in taxes and other revenues than the $1.16 billion it spent to provide them with state services. But the study also concluded that local governments weren't reimbursed by the state for about $1.4 billion in health care and law enforcement costs.
The closest thing Texans have to an updated analysis is a 2013 study performed by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based immigration think tank. It found that Texas would lose $69.3 billion in economic activity, $30.8 billion in gross state product and approximately 403,174 jobs if the state’s undocumented immigrant population were deported.
The bottom line appears to be, however, that for Texas, it can't be a simple matter of "send them all back." There are far too many other issues (primarily economic) that must be considered and there are no easy answers.