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New Report Details the Many Ways Maryland’s Immigrants Boost Its Economy

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education not deportationA new report released today by the Commission to Study the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland details the many ways in which immigrants of all stripes lift up Maryland’s economy, and recommends steps the state should take to preserve a healthy relationship with all of its residents.

“In general, immigration leads to higher economic growth and greater levels of income per capita not only for the immigrants themselves, but, on average, for the U.S.-born persons as well,” the report states.  The research finds that immigrant workers 1) have skills that are mostly complementary to those of native workers, 2) decrease the costs for the industries they tend to work in, 3) contribute to entrepreneurship and innovation, and 4) spur investment and make the economy more productive.

“Maryland must remain welcoming to immigrants, and the state and its local jurisdictions should further strengthen its efforts to integrate immigrants into the economy and the community,” the commission emphasizes.

In 2010, Maryland was home to almost 804,000 foreign-born immigrants (13.9% of its population), which includes about 275,000 undocumented immigrants, or 4.8% of the state population.  It is estimated that these immigrants pay more in taxes (federal, state, and local) than they use in government services; and that the population, labor force, and economic growth they contribute will facilitate the long term financing of Social Security and Medicare.

The report makes several recommendations it says Maryland needs to pursue in order to ensure itself access to a steady stream of both highly skilled and less skilled workers (“A healthy and growing economy needs immigrants of all types.”)  Among them:

  1. Help the federal government pursue comprehensive immigration reform, which will be essential for a healthy nation and a healthy Maryland.Redouble efforts to provide “superior education” to all young residents, including the foreign born, regardless of immigration status: “A more educated person is good for our society.

  2. They earn more money and are more engaged in the community.

  3. They are better informed workers, consumers and voters.”Steer clear of programs like 287 (g) and Secure Communities, which—when they lead to the deportations of non-criminal immigrants—only harm relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

The report and its recommendations are especially timely in light of the upcoming referendum battle over the newly passed Maryland DREAM Act.  Opponents of the legislation are trying to overturn the state’s effort to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as young children—the exact kind of myopic thinking which the report warns against.