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Supporters say Immigration Reform Would Boost WV 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 12, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Supporters say immigration reform would not only help West Virginia's 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, West Virginia already collects nearly $4 million dollars a year from undocumented immigrants and with immigration reform, the amount would grow to more than $5 million.

Sean O'Leary, a policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, says these undocumented families already contribute to the economy, but it would help everyone if they could come out of the shadows.

"If you take those that are already here, already working, already contributing,” he says, “and allow them a path to legal residence, then they become more stable, more grounded in the community, and then they also contribute more."

Immigration reform faces an uphill fight in the Republican controlled U.S. House. Critics of immigration reform charge that undocumented migrants are a drain on government revenue.

O'Leary says that isn't the case – that they pay taxes now. But he says many are forced to work at cash-only jobs where the state doesn't collect income taxes.

"They're working families,” he says. “They're earning money, and they actually pay taxes. A lot of times you don't realize that, but they're buying goods and clothing.

“But while they do pay sales and excise taxes, only about half of them actually pay income taxes because they're undocumented."


Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV