Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is illegal immigration a boon or bane to Virginia?

Amidst the debate over illegal immigration is the discussion of the costs and benefits to Virginia and to Virginia businesses. The board of directors for the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce includes attorneys and professionals representing some of Virginia's largest companies. The VAHCC lobbied against proposed perceived anti-immigration legislation proposed in the General Assembly. In its policy statement, the VAHCC "favors a rational, economically oriented approach to immigration-related legislation" and argues against what it calls myths about Hispanic immigrants: Hispanic immigrants do not pay taxes; Hispanic immigrants come to the United States to get welfare; Hispanic immigrants are all illegal; and Hispanic immigrants take jobs from Americans.
Among some of the more interesting arguments, the VAHCC states that undocumented immigrants contribute between $6 and $7 billion to the Social Security fund through Social Security payroll taxes which are then paid out to Social Security recipients; that a report commissioned by the State of Texas concluded that illegal immigrants contributed nearly $ 1 billion ( $933 million ) more in taxes than they took out in services; that a report commissioned by the State of North Carolina Bankers Association commissioned concluded that Hispanic immigrants created an overall positive economic impact of $9.19 billion dollars; and that immigrant households in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area contributed nearly $10 billion in taxes in 1999-2000.
Combining these economic statistics supporting the impact of illegal immigrants with the legal arguments against amnesty for illegal immigrants, it is easy to see why this topic is so volatile, and why we are unlikely to see any demonstrable changes to current policy and law.