In the eyes of President Trump, immigrants are often criminals or even terrorists, who also steal jobs and leech public services. But multiple reports have debunked those claims. A new one, from the bipartisan group New American Economy, says immigrants contributed $232.9 billion to the local gross domestic product in a single year, 2014.
"The study speaks to something we all know intuitively," says Kate Brick, the organization's director of state and local initiatives. "Immigrants are the engine that drives the local economy."
One in five residents of L.A. County is a Latino immigrant, the research found; one in 10 is an Asian immigrant. The "buying power" of the foreign-born in the county was a whopping $70.7 billion, according to the study.
Additional findings of the study include:
- Immigrants composed a majority of "entrepreneurs" in both the city (53.6 percent) and county (51.5 percent). The data apply to all immigrants in L.A. County, including those here without permission, according to Brick.
- Immigrants in the county paid $17.3 billion in federal taxes in 2014; in the city, that figure is $6.9 billion. State and local taxes from immigrants totaled $7.9 billion in the county and $3.2 billion in city. Immigrants in the county contributed $9.2 billion to Social Security that year, too.
- Immigrants are well represented in the local workforce, making up 43.2 percent of people employed in the county. In the city that figure is even greater: 46.7 percent.
The study was launched before Trump was elected, Brick says, adding that New American Economy is in favor of both immigration reform (a pathway to legal status) and securing the southern border in order to reduce the number of people here illegally.
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In a statement, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the research shows that "L.A. became one of the world’s great cities by embracing immigration and diversity."
"We’ll continue supporting anyone who wants to work hard and invest in our future—no matter who they are, where they come from, or what language they speak."