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For Immediate Release
February 9, 2012
Contacts: Neil Tickner, 301 405 4622 or email@example.com
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Immigrants to Maryland contribute
significantly to the state's economy, and were vital to its workforce
expansion in both technical and less-skilled occupations from 2000 to
2010, concludes a new report by a Maryland commission. During this
period, immigrants mostly complemented rather than competed with
U.S.-born state residents for jobs, it adds.
The Commission to Study the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland,
a state panel coordinated by the University of Maryland, evaluated the
economic contributions of the state's foreign-born and the cost of
government services for them. It also studied the education experience
of the children of immigrants, immigration law enforcement issues facing
local communities, and the use of the federal E-Verify system to verify
workers' immigration status.
The panel's final report, The Impact of Immigrants in Maryland,
says the state's foreign-born workers accounted for more than 57
percent of workforce expansion from 2000 to 2010. This was well above
the national average of 45 percent.
Also, the report urges legislators to take a long view of
immigration, which will show that the benefits significantly outweigh
the costs, even the short run fiscal costs of providing state and local
services. It says the state would be "foolhardy" to shortchange the
education of immigrants' children, who will be part of the state's
"The panel has adopted a common sense approach that we believe reflects the will of the State," says Commission Chair Larry Shinagawa,
a University of Maryland professor and demographer. "We've based our
findings on the demographic and economic facts and the legal
responsibilities of Maryland's jurisdictions, and we believe our
recommendations can help the State leverage global energy and talent to
continue as a diverse, prosperous, and dynamic community."
The General Assembly authorized the commission in 2008, and the panel
first met in 2010. As staff director, University of Maryland economist
Jeffrey Werling, who directs the university's econometric research
center, Inforum, coordinated the work of the panel, which included
representatives from the governor's office, both houses of the Assembly,
and the private sector. Together, they scoured data sources and
immigration literature and interviewed dozens of witnesses.
Among the report's major findings and recommendations:
"Immigrants have made considerable contributions to Maryland's leading
industries in the information, science, and medical fields," the report
says, pointing to evidence from 2000 to 2010. Additionally, unskilled
immigrants play important roles in agriculture, seafood, construction,
tourism, and transportation.
"Without the influx of foreign-born workers, expansion in these
labor-intensive industries would have been choked off, increasing prices
and discouraging growth across the economy," it finds.
The report did note that when economic growth is weak, competition
from new immigrants may lead to lower wages and contribute to
unemployment among lower-skilled workers. "Notably, when it occurs, the
negative effects of new immigration are most concentrated on the wage
and employment opportunities of previous low-skilled immigrants."
Foreign-born workers' contribution to economic growth largely supplies
the tax and other resources needed to cope with the larger population
that immigration produces, the report says. A 2007 Congressional Budget
Office report concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term,
immigrants pay more in federal, state, and local taxes than they use in
The rapid influx of lesser-skilled immigrants can strain the capacity
of state and local government budgets to supply health and education
services. About three-fourths of the costs of serving immigrants,
regardless of legal status, involve providing a public education for
their children - services the U.S. Supreme Court says cannot be denied.
Many of these children are U.S. citizens.
The report finds that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crime
than the U.S.-born, and it urges communities to be wary of federal
programs designed to engage local police agencies in the enforcement of
U.S. immigration law.
There are two major programs that can involve local law enforcement
agencies. Under "Secure Communities," fingerprints of those arrested
for any criminal offense that are sent for identification to the FBI are
automatically forwarded to immigration officials to determine whether
the person in custody is subject to deportation. A second program,
"287(g),"creates a partnership that deputizes local officers to
enforce federal immigration law.
The Commission's recommendation: "Programs that enroll local law
agencies in enforcing immigration law can work against the interests of
Maryland's communities. Local jurisdictions should engage with these
programs only under certain conditions."
The education of children of immigrant parents provides many challenges
to public school systems, the report finds. Some immigrant youth feel a
sense of isolation from their communities and pessimism surrounding
their futures, failing to get into a positive cycle of academic
enrichment, extracurricular activities, and social engagement.
"Regardless of their status, it is most likely that the children of
unauthorized immigrants will be part of the labor force over the coming
decades," the report says. "This labor force will underpin the U.S. and
Maryland economies, not to mention the Social Security and Medicare
benefits that current workers expect to receive. It would be foolhardy,
then, for state and local communities to withhold education and other
opportunities from those future workers."
To insure Maryland's continued global economic and technical
leadership, the state must redouble its efforts to provide superior
education at every level to all young residents, including the
foreign-born, regardless of immigration status, the report concludes.
FULL COPY AVAILABLE
A full copy of the report is available online: http://www.inforum.umd.edu/mdimmigration/content/md_immigration_commission_finalreport.pdf
UMD Public Affairs
Larry Shinagawa, Ph.D.
UMD Professor and
Director of Asian American Studies
Jeffrey Werling, Ph.D.
Commission Staff Director
Executive Director of UMD Inforum Economic Research Center