The UCLA Chicano-studies professor released a controversial study back in March, in which he weighed the effects of granting all Arizona's illegal immigrants citizenship against the effects of deporting them -- the latter obviously being the political favorite.
Let's just say his findings didn't exactly line up with the manic ravings of Governor Jan Brewer and the notorious Sheriff Joe. See: "If Arizona Legalized All Latino Immigrants (Fat Chance), State Would Collect $1.6 Billion More in Taxes." And believe it or not, the L.A./California version of the study is even more dramatic:
California has a gigantic immigrant population -- 10 million strong, or one-quarter of the state -- and one-quarter of those are here illegally. So their complete acceptance or removal by the law would have similarly huge effects on the local economy.
The results below are based on figures from before and after 1986, when Reagan granted sweeping amnesty (that's right, Palin -- your hero was a Latino-lover!), combined with the current number of undocumented workers, the taxes they pay and the jobs they vicariously create.We're curious if the Republican legislators pushing for a SB 1070-style law in the Golden State understand that immigrants actually create jobs, and that our entire way of life depends upon them. (Not that politicians really care -- it's all an emotional game to secure re-election, catering to the us vs. them fear in voters, anyway. And undocumented U.S. residents ripped from their families, deported for something as "sketchy" as walking home late at night, are the game's collateral.)
Hinojosa-Ojeda describes a scenario in which all illegal-alien workers toiling in California's fruit/vegetable fields are caught and deported. What happens next? Farmers "can't harvest the crops, they can't pay their bills." Cue domino effect:
"But the harm doesn't stop there. If farmers can't harvest their crops, the truckers who transport those crops to food processors, grocery stores, and restaurants lose work. And if those enterprises that rely on these crops to prepare meals or resell to consumers want to remain in business, they will have to pay more for new producers. The increased demand from a far smaller number of producers will elevate prices for all consumers. And more money spent on lettuce means less money spent elsewhere in the economy."Read the full report here. If you're still not convinced, we recommend you review the costly, inhumane and completely unnecessary deportation case of L.A. resident Jose Gutierrez.
Only 15 percent of immigrants deported through Immigration and Customs Enforcement's "Secure Communities" program since 2008 had committed a serious crime, according to the most recent ICE data -- and 28 percent were considered non-criminals by the Department of Homeland Security. The program has made it so that any alien who comes into contact with the law can have his or her papers checked. (Keep in mind that offenses can come in the form of driving without a license, which is an inevitable consequence of being undocumented. Talk about a vicious cycle.) Illinois was the first state to opt out of Secure Communities, just yesterday.
Phew! All this to say: California would, scientifically, be better off keeping most of them around. If only because the affordability of your daily omelette depends upon it.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agrees, and wishes upon that $1.9 billion to close the city deficit.
"When you bring people from out of the dark and into the light -- from out of a black-market economy to a free-market economy -- when you put them in a situation where they can get an education, be more productive and all that comes with legalization," he says, "we actually all benefit."