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Report: DREAM Act Could Mean Billions for Texas Economy

Texas would see an additional $66 billion in economic impact and 282,500 additional jobs by the year 2030 if the U.S. Congress passed the DREAM Act, according to a study released Monday.

Immigration protest at Texas Capitol. February 22nd, 2011

Granting legal status and paving the way to citizenship for an estimated 2.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would generate approximately $329 billion in economic impact by 2030, according to a report released Monday. The study also says that Texas itself would see an impact of $66 billion.

The report, a joint effort by the progressive Center for American Progress and the Partnership for a New American Economy, estimates that passing the DREAM Act, which would allow certain undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age to work and apply for residency, would generate that revenue total through a combination of wages, tax contribution and increased spending.

“The $148 billion in higher earnings that result from DREAMers being able to work legally and achieve greater education leads to increased spending on goods and services such as houses, cars and computers,” said Juan Carlos Guzmán and Raúl C. Jara, authors of the report. “This spending ripples through the economy, supporting another $181 billion in induced economic impact, the creation of 1.4 million new jobs, and more than $10 billion in increased revenue.”

Texas would see 282,500 additional jobs, along with $1.91 billion in combined income and business tax revenue, according to the report.

The estimates in the study were derived using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data compiled from 2006 to 2010, and the Pew Hispanic Center estimates on undocumented youths, including age, sex and ethnicity to calculate earning potential, Guzmán told reporters during a conference call. He said that the estimates are conservative because the center used economic data available during the peak of the country’s recession.

The study also comes after an August analysis by the Center for American Progress that concluded that if only 15 percent of Texans living in the state illegally were removed at once, it would mean an annual $11.7 billion loss for Texas’ gross domestic product. That would increase to more than $77 billion if all 1.65 million illegal immigrants were deported at once.

Also Monday, the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation released a poll it commissioned that reflects that some Americans still think the DREAM Act misses the mark on immigration.

The shortfall of the DREAM Act, according to the far majority of the respondents to the poll, is that it only affects 10 percent of the undocumented population. Respondents also think a considerable amount of DREAM-eligible youths would be reluctant to come forward out of fear of deportation. 

“Trying to fix the problem for young people who violated the law through no fault of their own sounds right, but most voters understand that while well-meaning, the idea simply doesn't solve the problem," wrote foundation president Helen Krieble about the DREAM Act.

The think tank advocates for the “Red Card” solution, which calls for a guest-worker program and an emphasis on border security.

The "Red Card" solution would authorize private employment firms to establish offices outside the country and issue work permits based on "smart card" technology and instant background checks. It would also require that people already in the country illegally leave, pass a background check and prove they have a job before being allowed re-entry.

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