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Supporters say Immigration Reform Would Boost Ark. Economy & Tax Revenue

Supporters say immigration reform would help not only the migrant families, but would also boost the state's economy. PHOTO courtesy of Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families.
Supporters say immigration reform would help not only the migrant families, but would also boost the state's economy. PHOTO courtesy of Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families.
July 11, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Supporters of immigration reform say it would not only help the Arkansas economy, it would also bring in millions more in state and local taxes. According to the non-partisan, non-profit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Arkansas already collects more than $70 million a year from undocumented immigrants, and with immigration reform, the amount would grow to nearly $90 million.

Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said the report confirms other studies showing those immigrants are good for the economy.

"Despite what many folks out there think, the impact on local economies, the taxes that get generated by other economic activity associated with immigrants being here, the net economic impact is actually a positive for the state of Arkansas," Huddleston declared.

Critics of immigration reform charge that undocumented migrants are a drain on the economy and government services. Huddleston said however that's not the case. In addition, he said, granting those families legal status would help everyone, in part because they would pay more taxes.

"If you go from being undocumented to having legal status, your income's going to go up, because oftentimes you can get a better job," he pointed out. "You're also more likely to comply with legal requirements, filing state income taxes, for example."

Huddleston said it makes a lot of sense to invest in the children of undocumented families.

Doing so, he said, increases "the quality of our work force, our ability to compete for jobs. To the extent that we do right by those kids, the whole state's going to benefit in the long run, for sure."

Immigration reform faces an uphill fight in the Republican-controlled U.S. House after the Senate approved such a measure last month.

More information is at itep.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AR