Fast Facts on Immigration’s Effect on the Economy

Here are the facts about immigration’s effect on the economy in the United States:

  • Immigration (both legal and illegal) is both an economic benefit and loss to the United States. (Source: Politico)
  • Immigration (both legal and illegal) lowers the cost of labor, which is good for businesses and the overall economy, creating as much as $50 billion in benefits. But this is bad for laborers who have to compete with immigrants for jobs. (Source: Politico)
  • Immigrants pay taxes, but because their wages are lower than average and because they consume government services at a higher rate than native-born Americans, they create a “fiscal hole” estimated to be about $50 billion annually. (Source: Politico)
  • This offsets the economic benefits of immigration, so the net effect is about neutral. Although various Americans are affected differently, low-skilled workers are disproportionately harmed. (Source: Politico)
  • Labor economists estimate that illegal immigration has caused the wages of low-skilled U.S. workers to decrease by anywhere from 0.4 to 7.4%. This is due to supply and demand: as labor supply increases (due to an increase in illegal immigration), the price of labor (wages) decreases. (Source: The New York Times)
  • 27 million immigrants (17% of the total civilian labor force) were working in the U.S. in 2016. 19.5 million were lawful immigrants and an additional 8 million (5% of the labor force) were illegal immigrants. (Source: Pew Research)
  • Since 1882, in an effort to limit the burden to our social welfare system, the government has denied legal immigration to anyone who is likely to become a “public charge” and dependent on the government. (Sources: Brookings Institution , The New York Times)
  • Currently, immigrants are only considered a public charge if they receive cash benefits from the government (for example: through the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program). (Sources: Brookings Institution , The New York Times)



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