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If Arizona Legalized All Latino Immigrants (Fat Chance), State Would Collect $1.6 Billion More in Taxes, Says UCLA Report

We know wackjob Arizona officials aren't really too into facts anymore, in their SB 1970 crusade to hunt down every last undocumented Latino and throw 'em all back to the drug lords down south, but UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda just dropped some pretty useful numbers for those of us who make a hobby of ripping Arizona a new one. (And our own set of suburban bigots over here in Southern California aren't much better -- though naturally a bit chiller.)

The report reminds us of 2004's "A Day Without a Mexican," but comes at a much nastier moment for both the economy and immigration law in America [full PDF here].

First off, Hinojosa-Ojeda finds that a mass deportation of workers sin papeles would shrink the Arizona economy by $48.8 billion...

... and reduce sales-tax revenues by 10.1 percent. Ouch. At the same time, total employment would drop 17 percent -- meaning 581,000 jobs would be eliminated. (Yes, that figure includes undocumented workers. But unless you're an us versus them hate monger, lost jobs are of concern to any international citizen.)

On the other hand, if all Latinos who wanted to work in Arizona were legally allowed to do so, the report shows that employment would jump 7.7 percent, labor income would swell $5.6 billion and income-tax revenues would increase by $1.68 billion.

From the Center for American Progress:

The analysis demonstrates unequivocally that undocumented immigrants don't simply "fill" jobs; they create jobs. Through the work they perform, the money they spend, and the taxes they pay, undocumented immigrants sustain the jobs of many other workers in the U.S. economy, immigrants and native-born alike. Were undocumented immigrants to suddenly vanish, the jobs of many Americans would vanish as well. In contrast, were undocumented immigrants to acquire legal status, their wages and productivity would increase, they would spend more in our economy and pay more in taxes, and new jobs would be created.

Simply put, Arizona's current approach to immigration policy is economically self-destructive.

Professor Hinojosa-Ojeda is down in El Salvador right now helping President Obama find viable ways to keep Latinos in their home countries -- aka, help foster jobs and economy there, so immigrants won't be forced into making a death-defying desert trip into the U.S. -- because that's just how he do. But he did tell us the following over the phone:

"If Arizona actually got what they wanted, we would have a $100 billion collapse, because [immigrants] produce so much wealth."

The professor says he'll be releasing a similar study on Los Angeles in about two weeks. Can't wait. Of course, there are those Angelenos who will always look at undocumented workers as leeches, re: "Illegal Immigrants' 'Anchor Babies' Took $53 Million In Welfare Services In L.A. County In 2010." But how much of that would be made up if their parents were allowed to pay taxes?

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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