Texas Rep. César Blanco wants the state comptroller to evaluate the economic impact of undocumented immigrants each year so that lawmakers have updated, accurate information when grappling with immigration reform, the Texas Tribune reported.
Blanco filed a proposed bill Friday that would require the Texas comptroller to annually review the financial impact of illegal immigration on the state and publish the analysis in a report; the last such report was in 2006.
“We owe it to the public to make decisions that affect them based on accurate information,” Blanco, a Democrat, said in a statement Friday. “It is a disservice to make important policy decisions based on groundless statements, especially when taxpayer funding is involved. I’m hopeful that this study will arm lawmakers and state agencies with invaluable information moving forward.”
Former Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn published a 2006 special report titled “Undocumented Immigrants in Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy,” which is no longer posted on the comptroller’s website. The study determined that deporting the roughly 1.4 million illegal immigrants living in Texas in 2005 would have cost the state approximately $17.7 billion in gross domestic product. The report also showed the state made more in taxes and other income that year than what it spent providing state services to undocumented immigrants. But the state of Texas didn’t compensate local governments for the $1.4 billion in health care and law enforcement costs, according to Strayhorn’s analysis.
Immigrants make up 21 percent of Texas’ labor force, according to a 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report. A 2013 study by a Washington-based immigration think tank called the Migration Policy Institute found that Texas would lose $69.3 billion in economic activity, $30.8 billion in gross state product and roughly 403,174 jobs if all illegal immigrants were removed from the state. If undocumented immigrants in Texas were given legal status, they would pay more than $1.7 billion in state and local taxes, according to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.
In June 2013, former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego of Texas had asked then-Comptroller Susan Combs to repeat the study and publish an updated analysis. But Combs never did, citing a lack of staffing and resources, according to the El Paso Times.
The current Texas comptroller, Glenn Hegar, has said he supports updating the study or producing a new one. “In order for Texas to truly understand the costs of illegal immigration to our state, we do need updated numbers," Hegar said when running for his position in October 2013, according to the Texas Tribune. "Whether it is updating that specific study or conducting a similar one, is something my administration will do.”