Skip to Content

Undocumented immigrants provide Texas with net benefit of more than $700 million annually, report says

8 Nov

By Will Anderson

Undocumented immigrants contribute about $2.7 billion to the Texas economy while receiving about $2 billion in public services from the state — a net benefit of $703 million that critics of Texas’ restrictive new immigration law are touting.

The numbers come from a new report by AngelouEconomics, an Austin-based consulting firm. The report was released Monday ahead of a Tuesday hearing before a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. An immediate ruling isn’t expected and other legal challenges surrounding the issue need to be resolved separately, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

To compile the study, AngelouEconomics considered how much the state spends on education, health care and prison for undocumented immigrants. The $2.7 billion economic contribution included consumer spending, utility payments and property tax payments.

Texas is home to about 1.65 million undocumented immigrants. About 71 percent are from Mexico, followed by El Salvador (8 percent) and Honduras (4 percent).

Meanwhile, Austin is home to about 100,000 undocumented immigrants, Mayor Steve Adler told AngelouEconomics. “Austin thrives because of, and not in spite of, our diversity,” Adler added.

SB 4 would get rid of so-called “sanctuary cities” where police officers don’t ask about immigration status and don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Go here for more on the topic from the Texas Tribune.

In its report, AngelouEconomics called SB 4 a “rudimentary measure that will jeopardize Texas’ economic prosperity and the quality of life of its citizens.”

But proponents of SB 4 say it will make Texas safer by removing from the country immigrants who commit crimes.

The measure, which was set to go into effect Sept. 1 but has been delayed by the ongoing legal battle, would most impact the construction, agriculture and services sectors, since they employ the most undocumented immigrants, according to AngelouEconomics. The report concluded that since undocumented immigrants make up about a quarter of Texas’ construction labor force, SB 4 would deepen the sector’s labor shortage — especially in light of Hurricane Harvey and the destruction it wrought on Houston and the Gulf Coast.

“We are in support of border control and security, but undocumented Texans have lived here for many years, they are part of our state’s fabric and are integrated into our economy,” said Angelos Angelou, principal executive officer at AngelouEconomics, in a statement. “To deal with immigration, we must consider long-term solutions, rather than short sighted ones that threaten our social networks and economic strength.”

Angelou founded his consulting firm in 1995 after nearly 12 years as vice president of economic development and chief economist at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. He is also founder and CEO of the International Accelerator, which brings global entrepreneurs to Austin to help them grow their business ideas.

At the start of this year, he issued a sweeping report that forecasts strong — but slowing — economic growth for the Austin area in the foreseeable future.