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Benefits of Immigration Reform to New Jersey’s Economy

169849_3851.jpgImmigration reform has been a contentious topic all over the country for months, and proposed reform bills continue to make their way through the legislative process in Washington DC. The U.S. Senate passed a bill in June 2013, which now awaits the House of Representatives. Closer to home, a recent study showed that the immigration reform provisions expanding work eligibility could increase New Jersey’s tax revenue by tens of millions of dollars. New Jersey would benefit more than most states from an expanded tax base. The state already receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, mostly sales and excise taxes, from undocumented immigrants living here.

The U.S. Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, on June 27, 2013. The bill resulted from the work of a bipartisan group of senators, known as the “Gang of Eight,” which included New York Senator Charles Schumer and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. It includes provisions for border security, employer compliance with work authorization laws, and new and modified nonimmigrant visa categories. It also includes the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) Program, part of what has been called a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. Work authorization would be included in RPI and other immigrant and nonimmigrant categories.

A report from the Washington DC-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a “non-profit, non-partisan research organization,” found that undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey paid about $476.4 million in taxes in 2010. This included personal income tax, property tax, and sales and excise tax. Sales and excise taxes were by far the largest source of tax revenue, totaling about $323 million that year. Part of the argument against the “path to citizenship” provisions in the immigration reform bill involves the supposed cost to taxpayers, although figures are difficult to project. According to, the Congressional Budget Office projected that immigration reform will reduce the federal budget deficit by $900 million over the next twenty years, while the conservative Heritage Foundation stated that it would increase the deficit by $6.3 trillion over the next fifty years.

ITEP’s report predicts a significant boost to New Jersey’s tax revenue from immigration reform, including the RPI Program. The amount of taxes paid by the population of currently undocumented immigrants would increase to about $557.6 million, a gain of over $81 million. The report predicted the largest gains for California, with about $328 million; and New York, with $224 million. With formal work authorization, the report stated, immigrants might be able to earn more, and would therefore be willing to spend more. The question posed by critics of immigration reform is whether the costs would outweigh the benefits. The boost to local economies in New Jersey, however, seems clear.

Applications for employment- and family-based visas require careful planning and attention to the intrication federal immigration code. Immigration attorney Samuel C. Berger represents immigrants and prospective immigrants who wish to move to the New York and New Jersey areas, or who have already made one of them their home. We help businesses petition for immigrant employees, and we help families petition to bring their loved ones to the U.S. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117.

More Blog Posts:

Immigration Reform Proposals Include Relief for New Jersey DREAMers, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2013
Lawmakers Introduce Immigration Reform Bill in Congress, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, April 19, 2013
Bipartisan Proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Includes New Employment-Based Green Card Opportunities, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 7, 2013
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