Data Shows Importance of Undocumented Immigrants to the U.S. Economy

New data released by MeBIC partner New American Economy looks at the labor force and economic impact of undocumented immigrants by country of origin.

The report indicates that over 40% of the estimated 10.3 million individuals without legal status in the U.S. are from Mexico, and their participation rate in the labor force is 96.7 percent.   Undocumented Mexicans held over $82 billion in spending power, contributed nearly $10 billion in federal, state and local taxes, and their earnings generated an additional $14.5 billion in Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund contributions in 2019.

Immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras comprise more than  15% of the undocumented population, and contributed over $3 billion in federal, state and local taxes, and had nearly $27 billion in disposable income in 2019.

According to the report, Indians make up nearly 6% of undocumented immigrants, and with the remaining 38% from myriad other nations. Indians contributed  $2.8 billion in federal, state and local taxes, and had over $15 billion in spending power in 2019.

Undocumented and Mexican and Central American workers are heavily represented in essential sectors such as agriculture, construction, personal services (such as child and elder care), manufacturing and hospitality.  Undocumented Mexicans alone represent nearly 12% of the agriculture labor force getting food to U.S. tables, even putting themselves at risk during the pandemic.

The data spotlights the workforce and economic contributions of the undocumented population and shows the economic imperative to legalize these individuals who are not only already part of our communities, but are essential to the nation’s economy.   Congress should pass bills like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, the Dream Act, and broader immigration reforms to give these millions of productive people full legal status and the security of permanence in the U.S.