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Report Casts a New Financial Light on Virginia's Undocumented Workers

February 18, 2008

Richmond, VA - Undocumented workers in Virginia put millions of dollars into tax coffers and billions into businesses. A new study by The Commonwealth Institute says these workers pay from $145 to $174 million each year in property, income, and excise taxes. In addition, those who are working "on the books" also contribute up to $137 million in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

The Commonwealth Institute's Executive Director and report coauthor Michael Cassidy hopes the findings will help change some negative perceptions of undocumented residents.

"These individuals, who all too often are characterized in the current political environment as being consumers of goods and services, are contributors too. It's important to remember that."

Cassidy notes there are up to 300,000 undocumented workers in Virginia, doing up to $3.6 billion worth of labor. He says, while pressure is growing at the federal level to crack down on undocumented immigrants, the research shows they make a sizable contribution to the business community. Most of their wages, he adds, flow right back into the local economy.

"Like all other workers in our state, they spend the money that they earn. And, like most low-wage workers, they spend almost all of that money locally, here in Virginia."

The full report is available online, at www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org.

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA