Cato on Immigration

The Cato Institute has recently published an analysis of proposed Immigration Reform, and concluded that comprehensive reform is overdue. The entire report is worth reading (I don’t have it in electronic form, unfortunately), as it methodically disposes of a number of charges that are routinely leveled at undocumented workers.

One of the interesting studies cited in the report comes from Texas, of all places–a state rarely known for progressive policies, or for policies based on evidence of any kind, for that matter.

One of the arguments routinely made by those demanding that undocumented persons be deported is that they are an economic drain on the American economy. In December 2006, the Texas comptroller of public accounts looked at economic activity by illegal immigrants, and issued a report concluding that such individuals had “produced a positive effect on the Texas economy and state budget.” The Comptroller estimated that the loss of the approximately 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in the state would have translated into a loss of 17.7 billion dollars to the state in 2005.  The Comptroller further estimated that state revenues collected from undocumented immigrants exceeded what the state spent on services to that population by 424.7 million dollars.

This research seems consistent with estimates that undocumented workers leave something on the order of two billion dollars in Social Security each year–money withheld from paychecks under phony Social Security numbers that cannot ever be claimed by those from whom it was withheld.