By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
9/4/2014 (10 months ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Researchers at the University of Southern California have found that immigrants in California illegally make up nearly 10 percent of the state's workforce and contribute $130 billion annually to its gross domestic product. Conducted in conjunction with the California Immigrant Policy Center, the study was based on census data and other statistics.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Data was compiled from the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security and examined a variety of ways that the estimated 2.6 million immigrants living in California without permission participate in state life.
Among the finding were that illegal immigrants comprise 38 percent of the agriculture industry and 14 percent of the construction industry statewide. Half of the immigrants in the state illegally have been here for at least 10 years and roughly 58 percent do not have health insurance.
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Surprisingly, nearly three in four live in households that include U.S. citizens.
"It's a population deeply embedded in the labor market, neighborhoods and social fabric of the state," USC sociology professor Manuel Pastor, who worked on the report, says. Immigrants are integrated into daily life in California.
Advocates for more inclusive immigration policy say the economic contributions of immigrants are another reason they should be allowed to stay.
"Every one of California's immigrants helps shape our state's economic and civic vitality," Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Policy Center says. President Obama, she says, should take immediate action to limit deportations and "honor these contributions and advance economic prosperity."
The likelihood of a comprehensive overhaul of the country's immigration laws has dimmed over the past several months. Obama has said he will use his executive power to make changes in deportation policy.
But those who call for stricter enforcement of existing immigration laws say assessments of immigrants' share of the GDP does not account for the large cost governments incur in providing schools and other services to immigrants here without permission.
Bigger economies are not necessarily better, Steven Camarot of the Center for Immigration Studies notes. He says that he favors stricter restrictions on immigration. "A bigger economy doesn't mean the people are richer," he said.
The USC study also looked at the impact of immigration on the Los Angeles economy.
It found that of the 4.4 million immigrants living in the greater Los Angeles region, 1.1 million are here without permission. Immigrants here illegally contributed $57 billion of the region's GDP, the study found.
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