What Would ‘A State Without Immigrants’ Look Like?

Undocumented New Jerseyans are an integral part of our state’s economy.

Published on May 4, 2017 in Economic Justice, Immigrants' Rights

undocumented pop by county-01Hundreds of New Jersey immigrants and allies participated this week in a national economic boycott, using the slogan “A Day Without Immigrants.” The idea was for immigrants to miss work and not purchase any goods to make their economic presence felt.

It is hard to measure the economic impact that one day without immigrants would have on New Jersey’s economy, but we know for certain that losing all the state’s estimated half million undocumented residents would be damaging, if not crippling, with the most severe impact in areas where large number of undocumented immigrants live.

If all of the state’s undocumented immigrants were deported, New Jersey would suffer the largest percentage loss of Gross Domestic Product (4.9 percent) of all the states, topping other immigrant-heavy states like California (4.7 percent loss), Texas (3.9 percent loss) and New York (3 percent loss).

gdp-loss-undocumented-01In dollars and cents, this would cost New Jersey about $26 billion each year. This does not, however, include ripple effects that deportation would have on the housing market, businesses and local economic activity, which means that the economic loss would be even greater.

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s undocumented immigrants pay $587 million each year in state and local taxes, the sixth highest level of all the states. And the more integrated these neighbors become in our society, the higher their tax contributions. For example, the same undocumented New Jerseyans would pay an additional $73 million – the eighth largest jump of all states – under comprehensive immigration reform.

While reactionary rhetoric and actions toward immigrants and refugees seems to be the “new normal” in the D.C. halls of power, the facts still matter – and they show us that undocumented New Jerseyans are an integral part of our state’s economy.