Commentary, NC Budget and Tax Center

Why mass deportation would cause a $10.6 billion loss for NC industries (graph)

In case you missed it, the Budget and Tax Center is out with a powerful new installment in its Prosperity Watch series — this one on the massive beneficial impact of immigrants to the North Carolina economy and what it would mean if we embarked upon the kind of mass deportation policies advanced by some political candidates. This is from the “Mass deportation would mean $10.6 billion loss for NC industries”:

Immigrants are an important element—as workers, consumers, and business entrepreneurs—in building a thriving state economy.  Current rhetoric on mass deportation as a policy to address our broken immigration system overlooks immigrants’ contributions to state and local economies, and, additionally, the impact that an absence of workers would have on major industries.

A new report measuring the economic consequences of a mass deportation policy reveals a $236 billion reduction in total GDP and a cost of nearly $900 billion in lost revenue over 10 years for the federal government. Nationally, the industries that would be hit the hardest by the absence of an undocumented immigrant workforce would be agriculture, construction and leisure and hospitality. Estimates indicate that these industries would experience a workforce reduction of 10 to 18 percent or more.

For North Carolina, such a policy would result in a more than $10.6 billion loss for local industries. Manufacturing would experience the largest cut with a loss of approximately $2.4 billion in annual GDP. Construction ($2 billion) and Leisure and Hospitality ($1.3 billion) would experience the second and third highest losses in annual GDP if mass deportation were to occur. Our state simply cannot afford such a hit to industries still recovering from the effects of the recession.


These estimates do not account for additional setbacks in the form of reduced state and local tax revenue. Removing undocumented immigrant taxpayers would prevent our state from investing in education and work opportunities.

Instead, policymakers should seize the opportunity of growing our economy by lowering the barriers to immigrants’ full economic participation. This can be done through different policy choices, such as action in Congress that would enable a legalization program and eventual pathway to citizenship for the 338,000 undocumented immigrants currently living in NC. States can also improve economic opportunities for immigrants by promoting proven integration policies for immigrant families including: in-state tuition, access to professional licensing/credentialing, English language training, and transportation and access to jobs.


John McCain: Republicans will block any Clinton Supreme Court nominee

Just when you thought the gridlock in Washington couldn’t get any worse, a supposedly moderate “maverick” has indicated it will. Ian Millhiser at Think Progress reports:

“Almost immediately after news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death broke, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proclaimed that ‘this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.’ And, with rare exception, this has been the Senate GOP’s message since Scalia’s seat became vacant?—?let the election happen first, and whoever wins that election gets to pick the next justice.

Nevertheless, in a Monday interview with a Philadelphia radio host, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted that Republicans will continue to block anyone the next president nominates to the Supreme Court?—?at least if that president is Hillary Clinton….

After host Dom Giordano pressed McCain on how he can promise that Republicans will block Clinton’s appointees when they did not block President Obama’s appointment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, McCain noted that a handful of Republicans did support Sotomayor. This time around, however, he says things will be different.

‘I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,’ McCain told Giordano. He added that ‘this is why we need the majority.'”

As Millhiser explains persuasively (click here to read his entire analysis), McCain’s utterly irresponsible statement is “nothing less than an existential threat to the Supreme Court itself,” since, it’s conceivable such a stance could end up whittling the membership of the Court significantly, given the number of elderly members.

Several hours after McCain made his statement, a spokesperson tried to walk it back — at least a little — by saying the senator would review each nominee individually. Let’s hope the pressure of his current re-election campaign got the better of the senator in the moment of his radio interview. Given the state of conservative obstructionism in the current environment, however, just about anything seems possible.


Another important gay rights case that could set the table for ending discrimination in employment

Here’s a bit of hopeful news to start your week: A federal appeals court in Chicago appears poised to extend a federal bar on employment discrimination to LGBTQ Americans. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress reports in “The most important gay rights case since marriage equality was won”:

Americans enjoy a fundamental right to marry, regardless of whether they are straight, bisexual, or gay. Yet, in more than half of the states, “a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act,” as one federal court explained in a recent opinion.

There is no federal law that explicitly protects workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Moreover, while there are very strong arguments that existing protections against gender discrimination are broad enough to protect sexual minorities in the workplace, the courts have largely rejected these arguments. As a result, if you live in one of the 28 states that does not forbid discrimination against gay and bisexual workers, you can be fired because of the person you love.

A federal appeals court appears poised to change that, however, at least in the three states overseen by that court. And should the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit hold, in a case known as Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, that current law already protects workers who are attracted to members of the same sex, the case would likely be on the fast track to the Supreme Court.

Hively, or a similar case, could transform the nation’s LGBT rights landscape no less than the Court’s marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. And there are strong signs that the Seventh Circuit is prepared to rule in favor of workplace equality.

As Millhsier goes on to explain, court interpretations of federal anti-sex discrimination law have come to make little sense since, quite weirdly, they protect lesbians and gay men who fulfill stereotypes of those classes, but not those who don’t. Here’s the conclusion:

The law, as it exists in many courts, “protects ‘flamboyant’ gay men and ‘butch’ lesbians but not the lesbian or gay employee who act and appear straight.” A male employee can be fired for being gay, but only if they aren’t into fashion.

There is a strong early sign, however, that the Seventh Circuit wants to eliminate this anomaly. Read more


Roy Williams’ inspiring stance on the National Anthem controversy



In case you missed it in all the hubbub this week (or just never received your newspaper, as has happened to a lot of folks), one of the most encouraging North Carolina political stories emanated from the world of sports.

As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported Wednesday, UNC basketball coach Roy Williams has had some important insights in recent days regarding the National Anthem controversy that has swept the nation in recent months. Here’s reporter Andrew Carter:

When North Carolina coach Roy Williams first heard about Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, Williams reacted the way a lot of Kaepernick’s critics have reacted.

“At first, it made me very angry,” Williams said on Tuesday during UNC’s annual preseason media day. “The guy’s making $19 million – what do you have to say against our country?”

That was Williams’ first reaction. Then, he said, he learned more about Kaepernick’s motivation. Williams said he “listened better” to the message that Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has inspired a nationwide dialogue, was trying to deliver.

Amid a long, sordid string of police violence against black men, Kaepernick began protesting the national anthem during the NFL’s preseason. He has knelt, instead of stood, while the anthem has played before games, and other NFL and college players have since joined in solidarity with their own anthem protests.

“He wasn’t saying this was a bad country,” Williams said. “He said we’ve got not just one particular problem, but one particular problem he was taking a stance on, and I think he’s correct. So I told that to the team.”


Editorial: Extend voter registration deadlines in aftermath of deadly storm

voteWith Hurricane Matthew’s flood waters not yet receded, it’s pretty obvious that a lot of people in our state are not in a position right now to get the details of their lives fully in order. This would clearly include registering to vote. While the recent action of the federal Court of Appeals striking down the state’s “monster voting law” (and thereby reviving same day registration — which will allow people to register on Election Day and vote at the same time) will help, it’s still ridiculous that the state is not pushing back today’s voter registration deadline. An editorial in today’s Fayetteville Observer does a good job of making this point:

Here’s the conclusion:

“Registration deadline is today, but the board has told local officials to accept mailed-in registrations that arrive late. The board also notes that same-day registration is available at all early-voting sites, which will be open from Oct. 20 through Nov. 5.

At this point, it’s not clear that all early-voting sites will be able to open by next Thursday. It’s fortuitous that the courts struck down state voting reform legislation and that same-day registration is still an option. But it may not be enough in some of this state’s hardest-hit communities.

We hope the State Board of Elections will reconsider its decision to hold firm to its deadlines. Even if only a handful of would-be voters is unable to register, that’s a denial of the most basic American right.”