Executive Actions on Immigration Would Help Many New Jerseyans While Boosting the Economy

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ExecActionsBox-01President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration would benefit hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans and provide a boost to the state’s economy by allowing many undocumented residents to work legally and avoid deportation.

However, these common-sense steps towards a more pragmatic immigration policy have been thrown into legal limbo, after a federal judge from Texas ordered an indefinite halt on the 2014 actions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is set to hear arguments in the case on July 10, though it could be weeks or even months before a decision is handed down. Not only does this legal challenge threaten to derail the positive effects these policies could have, the delay itself puts the benefits of the executive actions in jeopardy.

About 200,000 New Jerseyans stand to benefit from these changes, which would create a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[1]

Executive Actions Would Boost New Jersey’s Workers & Economy

Undocumented workers who are legally allowed to work and protected from deportation participate more fully in the economy. Those affected by the executive actions would see higher wages and less unemployment, and the state economy overall would see a boost.

The undocumented immigrants affected by these executive actions would likely see their wages rise by 5 to 10 percent, as they find jobs that are better matched to their skills, are less vulnerable to exploitative employers, are able to drive legally and are generally better integrated into the economy.[2]

This wage bump is key for New Jersey’s undocumented families, who are currently paid far less than other families. Executive actions could start to close the gap between the average annual income of New Jersey’s undocumented families ($34,500) and all New Jersey families ($113,394).[3]

These executive actions could also create 1,500 new jobs each year while giving the state’s economy a boost of $11.9 billion over the next decade.[4]

With work authorization, more undocumented New Jerseyans would be able to open their own businesses, adding to the already robust economic ecosystem of immigrant-owned small businesses. New Jersey already has the third highest share of immigrant business owners in the country,[5] and these executive actions would likely add more to the mix.

If these families earn more, they would also pay higher taxes. New Jersey’s undocumented residents already pay an estimated $613 million a year in state and local taxes. Under these executive actions, this would increase by $29 million, the seventh biggest increase of the 50 states.[6]

The economic boosts to these families could also lift their children – most of whom are U.S. citizens – out of poverty and towards the middle class.[7]

execactionseligible-01A Large and Diverse Group of New Jerseyans Would Benefit

Of New Jersey’s estimated 477,000 undocumented residents,[8] approximately 4 in 10 would be eligible for deferred action after the president’s executive actions. In total, about 200,000 New Jerseyans would be eligible for one of the two programs – the sixth highest number in the country. Of these, 40 percent are originally from Mexico or India. Of the undocumented New Jerseyans hailing from India, over half would be eligible for these executive actions – the highest share of the largest origin countries.

Not surprisingly, the areas of New Jersey that have the most undocumented residents also have the largest numbers of those who’d benefit from these executive actions. About two-thirds of the eligible population lives in the six-county “Gateway” region that includes Hudson, Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Union and Passaic Counties.


Appendix: County Estimates and Countries of Origin

DAPA eligible by county-01

DACA eligible by county-01

DAPA origin countries-01


[1] For more on additional eligibility requirements for both DAPA and DACA, see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Executive Actions on Immigration.
[2] Fiscal Policy Institute, President’s Immigration Action Expected to Benefit Economy, November 2014.
[3] Average income of undocumented New Jersey families from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions, April 2015. Average income of all New Jersey families from U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.
[4] Center For American Progress, State-by-State Analysis of the Economic Impact of DACA, DAPA, and DACA Expansion, June 2015.
[5] Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of immigrant business owners
[6] New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey’s Undocumented Residents Pay More than $600 Million in State & Local Taxes, April 2015.
[7] University of Southern California Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, The Kids Aren’t Alright – But They Could Be, March 2015.
[8] There are multiple estimates of New Jersey’s undocumented population that range from 477,000 to 525,000. For the purpose of this paper, NJPP uses the Center for Migration Studies estimates. More on their methodology here: http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index.php/jmhs/article/view/38 and http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index.php/jmhs/article/view/45