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The Economic Effects of Citizenship versus Deportation

A Huge Difference in the Effect on GDP

In addition to big increases in government spending, deportation leads to a decline in business activity and in tax revenue. For the nation as a whole, lower business activity leads to a steep decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) and an increase in the federal debt. A 2016 Center for American Progress study1 found that removing seven million unauthorized workers nationally, about five percent of the U.S. workforce, would result in an average yearly loss of $434.4 billion. Over a decade, this would amount to a loss of $4.7 trillion in gross domestic product and a loss of $900 billion in federal government revenues. This study concluded that GDP would immediately drop 1.6% and would eventually drop 2.6%. The federal deficit would increase close to a trillion dollars by 2026.

gdp annual nationwide loss due to deportation

douglas holtz-eakin 22013 research by Douglas Holtz-Eakin,2 formerly Congressional Budget Office Director under President H. W. Bush and currently President of the conservative American Action Forum, concluded that allowing unauthorized immigrants to become permanent residents has, in contrast, a much better outcome for the U.S. economy. It would raise the pace of U.S. economic growth by nearly a percentage point over the near term and by 3 to 3.9% over ten years. Holtz-Eakin estimated that allowing unauthorized immigrants to become permanent residents would reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion by giving unauthorized immigrants the opportunity to participate more productively in the labor market.

david cay johnston 2

Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, who reported for the New York Times for many years on tax policy, wrote about a July 7th memo from Mick Mulvaney,3 Director of the White House 0ffice of Management and Budget.  Mulvaney indicated that the budget will make big increases in military spending and immigration policing, but will reduce the federal civilian workforce. Johnston noted that Mulvaney's memo asserts that spending much more on the military and on Homeland Security, whose main task is to deport as many noncitizens as possible, will increase economic growth.  Johnston commented:

"As someone who has studied and written about economics for a half century, I cannot recall ever reading an economics text linking more spending on war-fighting capacity and immigration policing with faster economic growth. Instead, defense and policing costs are usually described as necessary, but unproductive, a drag on an economy."


1.  Edwards, Ryan and Ortega, Francesc.  “The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers:  An Industry- and State-Level Analysis.”  Center for American Progress, September 21, 2016.

2. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas.  “Immigration Reform, Economic Growth, and the Fiscal Challenge.”  American Action Forum, April, 2013.

3.  Johnston, David Cay.  “Trump’s Budget Shows How He Is Building a Police State.”  Alternet, July 19, 2017



The Effect of Deportation on Business Activity and Tax Revenue

An Example: Brooklyn Park, MN

How might widespread deportation of unauthorized immigrants affect business activity and tax revenue in Brooklyn Park?

bruce p. corrie

Dr. Bruce P. Corrie's study of the political power of Asian, African, and Latino immigrants1 shows that immigrants in Senate District 40, which covers most of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, had the 4th largest income for immigrants In Minnesota, $867 million for 2012 to 2014. Many Latino immigrants are unauthorized, many Liberian immigrants have Deferred Enforced Departure visas, and many college students brought to the U.S. without authorization have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  visas that will expire in March 2019.  Thus, Brooklyn Park is a community that could experience severe economic disruption due to deportation of immigrants by ICE. This would include a substantial decline in employees in our area, including many in professions requiring an advanced education; a decline in retail businesses' income as the number of families living in poverty grows; and a decline in property, income, and business tax revenue.


1.  Bruce P. Corrie, PhD.  “ALANA Political Power:  Strong Growth in House and Senate Districts 2012-2014:  $30 Billion ALANA Economy Calls for Greater Political Representation!”  Chai.News,, February 26, 2016.


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In June 2012, Think Again MN launched a history series that examines politics and policy-making in Minnesota during the last century from the immediate post World War II years up through the 1990s. That era witnessed fierce legislative battles at the State Capitol but it was also a time of shared values that cut across partisan lines. 

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