immigration

Immigrant students in N.C. lobby for tuition equity

Students who attended the Undocugraduation event gathered together at the entrance of the NC General Assembly after speaking with legislators. (Photo by Sarah Montgomery)

Dozens of students from across the state visited the Capitol building on Wednesday for the fifth year in a row to rally together and speak with state legislators about tuition equity. The “Undocugraduation” event was organized by the Adelante Education Coalition, a statewide network of organizations focused on expanding educational opportunities for Latinx/Hispanic and immigrant youth.  Some students who attended the event wore their graduation regalia to meetings with legislators, and spoke with them about their hopes and dreams in higher education.  Advocates also asked legislators to support HB 734 and SB 652, two bills that would open the door to higher education by allowing undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition.  Approximately 66,000 undocumented immigrant students in North Carolina would benefit from a tuition equity law.

Since 2001, eighteen states have passed legislation to grant in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students.  Four other states have granted in-state tuition through individual university systems. North Carolina, however, is not among those states. In NC, undocumented immigrant students are still considered out-of-state residents despite the fact that many have called this state their home for most of their lives. This means that many are locked out of higher education due to the high cost of out-of-state tuition for colleges and universities. Read more

immigration, NC Budget and Tax Center

Undocumented immigrants pay their fair share of taxes, too

Tax Day is just around the corner, and this year is no different than any other for countless undocumented immigrants filling tax forms in North Carolina. Current rhetoric on immigration often overlooks the important contributions undocumented immigrants make to our communities as neighbors, workers, and taxpayers. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy recently released a study that highlights the significant contributions that undocumented immigrants make to our state and local economies by paying taxes. According to the report, undocumented immigrants across the United States collectively pay $11.74 billion in state and local taxes.

In North Carolina, these community members pay sales and excise taxes on things such as utilities, clothing and gasoline. They also pay property taxes, either directly on their homes or indirectly as renters. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants also pay state income taxes that help grow state investments in schools, transportation, health care, and other services. At least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households currently file tax returns using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), which are the numbers assigned to foreign nationals who do not have a Social Security number. Among those who do not file tax returns, many still have taxes deducted form their paychecks.

Policymakers can also analyze tax contributions through the “effective tax rate,” which measures the share of total income paid in taxes. Across the country, the average effective tax rate for undocumented immigrants is 8 percent. This number is especially striking when you compare it to the average nationwide effective tax rate among the richest taxpayers: 5.4 percent.

Policymakers can still make wise choices that strengthen our communities and recognize the substantial contributions that immigrants make to our economy and to government revenues. A policy of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants would result in the harmful separation of families, and the loss of neighbors, students and friends. It would also result in a tremendous loss for state and local economies struggling to sustain a post-recession recovery. When it comes to immigration, state and national leaders have an opportunity to explore and enact sound public policies that promote economic growth and immigrant integration, based on facts and reality rather than playing out the politics of fear and division.

immigration, NC Budget and Tax Center

Refugees help North Carolina communities thrive

North Carolina has a history of being a good global neighbor as a site for refugee resettlement. In 2015, 69,920 refugees arrived in our country seeking better opportunities. Though small in number (0.022% of the total U.S. population), they and their predecessors have helped enrich communities and revive local economies. They arrive to this country fleeing natural disasters, war zones, and repressive governments. Despite the challenges they face in adjusting to life in a new country, many have succeeded in putting down roots in our state and in achieving a better life for their families. A recent report by the Center for American Progress highlights the successful integration of four refugee groups* in the United States, and demonstrates the positive impact refugees can have on our broader communities. Across the board, refugees who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more have seen positive outcomes in the areas of education, wages, labor force participation, and more.

Growing local economies by participating in the labor market

Refugees often see high rates of labor force participation, which is a strong indicator that they are integrating well into the labor market and helping boost American productivity. For those groups who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or fewer, all had at least a 45 percent participation rate. When looking at long-term outcomes (those who have lived in the U.S. 10 years or more), all refugee groups saw significant increases in labor force participation.

Additionally, refugees often see wage increases over time, which is partly due to changes in occupation as they integrate into communities. Many also experience occupational mobility. On average, among those who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more, there is a significant increase in the number of refugees moving from blue collar jobs into white collar jobs.    Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Across the state, North Carolinians voted for public investments

North Carolinians who cast their ballots this year made several critical choices. Among these were important ballot initiatives in multiple counties to increase public investment in transit, housing, schools, parks and redevelopment. Research shows that quality infrastructure can help raise the living standard in diverse communities and boost productivity. By choosing to devote resources to these efforts, we as voters and community members take part in the creation of more equitable communities.

But the work does not end there. There is work outside of physical infrastructure that must be done in order to ensure that our state and local communities are inclusive and equitable for all.

Across the country, voters in other states supported increased investments made possible by raising revenue in a progressive way. In Maine, residents passed an income tax surcharge for income-earners making above $200,000, from 7.15 to 10.15 percent. In California, voters supported a 12-year extension of temporary income tax increases, adding three brackets with a top marginal rate of 13.3 percent.

In North Carolina, the following referendums on public investments passed by popular vote: Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

New Report Finds Impact of Immigration is Positive

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has just released a new report measuring the impact that immigrants have on federal and state budgets. The report follows up on a 1995 NAS study on the same topic. Since the release of the previous report, the United States immigrant population has more than doubled, from 24.5 million immigrants to 42.3 million in 2014.[1]

The issue of how immigration affects state and local costs as well as the economy overall is a pressing one where rhetoric on this topic has often trumped facts.  The authors find that in addition to the positive net benefits of immigration at the federal level, second generation immigrants produce a long-term net benefit for state and local economies, so long as states educate immigrant children.

Here are some other key findings from the report:[2]

  • Between 2020 and 2030, the only increase in our labor force population will come from immigrants and their children. Therefore, in order to sustain our labor force, a level of immigration is needed going forward.
  • Immigrant workers grow the size of the economy by approximately 11 percent each year. That would amount to approximately $2 trillion in 2016.
  • Immigrants today have more education than previous generations, making them stronger contributors to government finances than immigrants in the past.[3]
  • Second generation immigrants have an overall higher positive impact on the nation’s economy than other immigrant groups.
  • Overall, there was little impact on the economy in terms of wages and employment. The only negative impact was on native-born residents who do not hold a high school degree.

The report also adds to a growing body of research about the economic effects of immigration in North Carolina. In June, for example, the Budget and Tax Center released a report that underlined the benefits of immigration to the state’s economy. The report pointed out the contributions of immigrants as business owners, consumers and workers – pointing out that the long-run effect of immigration was the growth of most native-born workers’ wages.[4] Similar to BTC’s findings, a 2014 report from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business found that immigration produced a net fiscal surplus for the North Carolina when immigrants’ estimated public cost was subtracted from their estimated tax contributions.[5] The government’s challenge going forward is to introduce immigration policies that better support immigrants as participants in our economy and labor force, and as students in our education systems.

[1] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Economic and

Fiscal Consequences of Immigration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23550.

[2] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Economic and

Fiscal Consequences of Immigration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23550.

[3] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Economic and

Fiscal Consequences of Immigration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23550.

[4] McHugh, Patrick. Smart Choices in an Era of Migration. Rep. Raleigh: Budget and Tax Center, 2015. Web.

[5] Johnson, James H., Jr., and Stephen J. Appold. Demographic and Economic Impacts of International Migration to North Carolina. Rep. Chapel Hill: Kenan-Flagler Business School, 2014. Web.