Why are we chasing away people who contribute so much to the Texas economy?

Undocumented Texans contribute billions to the economy. Why are we chasing them away?

Mitchell Schnurman, Business columnist

In Texas, undocumented immigrants are an asset, and a valuable one.That may not be obvious, given that many work off the books in lower-paying jobs and have less education than immigrants who came here legally. Their contributions are often discounted, too, because some Americans can’t get past the fact that these residents have violated the law.

But the undocumented are a major part of the workforce in Dallas-Fort Worth and the state, and for decades, they’ve helped create the Texas growth story.

By one estimate, they held 1.2 million jobs in Texas, about 11.5 percent of the private-sector workforce in 2015. They paid over $13 billion in total taxes and generated almost $145 billion in gross product.

Their benefits — and costs — are not divided uniformly. The feds enjoy the biggest fiscal surplus because the undocumented don’t get payments from Social Security and other programs. The state has a net gain, too, according to a 2016 report by the Perryman Group in Waco.

Much of the funding burden falls to local agencies in Texas, including school districts and health care providers. They supply billions more in services than undocumented immigrants pay in taxes locally, the report said.

Still, there’s enough upside to go around, especially when multiplier effects are included — if government would coordinate its policies.

“The overall fiscal surplus is quite substantial,” the Perryman report said.

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