Impact of undocumented Coloradans is documented in two new studies

Two studies released today indicate that 180,000 undocumented immigrants live in Colorado. They pay a combined $167.5 million in taxes each year and cost the state a combined $166.6 million in services according to a study by The Bell Policy Center.

Of the taxes, the bulk, $114.5 million, comes from sales taxes. Income taxes, assuming half of undocumented residents are paid on the books and half paid under the table, amounts to $30.9 million. The last $22 million is from property taxes.

Of the taxpayer-funded expenses associated with undocumented immigrants, the study said $107.5 million goes to K-12 education, $32.5 million goes to incarceration and $26.5 million is spent on emergency medical care.

See the study here (pdf).

The second study, released by The Colorado Center on Law and Policy, breaks down where undocumented workers work, among other things.

It found that 21 percent are in construction, 17 percent in hospitality, 13 percent in manufacturing, 11 percent in whole and retail trade, and the remaining 38 percent in business, professions, education, health care, information services, agriculture, mining, transportation and other fields.

The CCLP study says of the 180,000 undocumented people in Colorado, 107,500 have jobs, 12,500 are looking for jobs and 60,000 are not in the workforce. Altogether, undocumented workers comprise 5 percent of the state’s workforce but earn only 3 percent of the income.

“This analysis clearly shows that claims that undocumented immigrants are the cause of our budget problems are way off base,” said Rich Jones, director of policy and research at the Bell Policy Center. “They are not eligible for and do not receive most government services. In fact, they pay enough in taxes to cover the costs of providing federally mandated services to them.”

“Labor by undocumented immigrants ripples through all parts of Colorado’s economy,” said Alec Harris, a policy analyst for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. “Like all groups of workers, undocumented immigrant workers spend their earnings, which supports local businesses, enabling those companies to hire more workers. It’s a positive cycle that stimulates the state’s economy.”

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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