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Mass deportation would lead to billion-dollar losses, study finds

Deporting 7 million undocumented workers would eliminate $4.7 trillion from the GDP over the next decade, the report said. A second new study also found that immigrants aren't taking Americans' jobs.
22 Sep 2016 – 12:06 PM EDT
An immigrant worker in Colorado. Crédito: John Moore/Getty Images

Donald Trump has blamed immigrants for crime and taking American jobs, and has proposed deporting all 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. But a new study released Wednesday found that such a move would have "severe" effects on the U.S. economy, costing an estimated $114 billion alone to remove the country's entire population of 7 million undocumented workers.

A report from progressive think tank The Center for American Progress (CAP) found that mass deportation of undocumented workers would eliminate $4.7 trillion from the GDP over a decade and cost the federal government almost $900 billion over that period. It would remove around 5 percent of the national labor force, and would slash the workforce in industries like agriculture and construction between 10 and 18 percent. The reduction in the national workforce would resemble that experienced during the Great Recession.

“Mass deportation is a policy of all loss and no gain,” said Tom Jawetz , CAP vice president of immigration policy, in a statement. “Aside from the enormous human and social costs of mass deportation, such a policy would have devastating economic and fiscal consequences that our states and our country cannot afford.”

States with large numbers of immigrants would see the biggest declines in GDP, the report shows. California would see an annual $103 billion drop in GDP, with other major slumps in Texas, New York and New Jersey.

However, industries without large numbers of undocumented immigrant employees would see the largest financial losses. The financial activities, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade industries would see long-run annual losses of $54.3 billion, $73.8 billion, and $64.9 billion, respectively.

Another report released Wednesday from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found immigrants actually aren't taking American jobs.

The study found "little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term,” said Cornell University economics professor Francine D. Blau, who headed the group conducting the research.

In fact, high-skilled immigrants have helped create jobs and may help raise wages for U.S.-born workers, the study found.

"Immigration and economic growth are highly correlated," said David Dyssegaard Kallick, senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute, in a CAP conference call Thursday. According to his research, "no city has seen growth without immigrants."

The study did show some negative effects of immigration, however. Teenage high-school dropouts saw their number of work hours reduced by immigrants, but not their ability to find employment. Earlier generations of immigrants in low-wage jobs had lower wages and more competition with new arrivals in finding jobs.

And while first-generation immigrants are more costly to local and state governments than those born here, children of immigrants "are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native-born population," the report says.