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Report: Immigrants contribute to state's economy

Posted: January 8, 2013 - 7:34pm

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ immigrant population, among the fastest-growing in the nation, has a positive impact on the state’s economy, according to results of a study released Tuesday.

The report, “A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013” commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, also found that more than 4 in 10 immigrants in the state are undocumented.

The immigrant population here grew by 82 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the report, a rate behind only Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Steve Appold, an assistant professor in the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina and a researcher on the study, said the net economic impact of immigrants in Arkansas in 2010 equaled about $3.4 billion. He estimated their presence cost the state about $555 million, mostly for public education and health care.

Immigrants fill many low-wage manufacturing jobs in Arkansas, particularly in the poultry industry, according to Appold, and many other businesses depend on immigrant labor, added Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce-Associated Industries of Arkansas.

“We need them,” Zook said during a news conference at the state Capitol announcing the report. “Immigrants provide a critical level of labor resource that is absolutely vital to the state. Without the immigrant population in Arkansas … a number of sectors in the state would be greatly challenged to function, much less to prosper.”

Sherece West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Rockefeller foundation, said the purpose of the report was “to educate and inform and to provide data to communities, business leaders, policy makers … (so) when we talk about immigrants and immigration in Arkansas that it is a conversation that is driven and informed by relevant, important data.”

The report did not address the politics of immigration, noting that is a federal issue.

However, Joel Anderson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, urged the Legislature pass legislation to make the children of undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state college tuition rates.

“It’s certainly an issue on which the state ought to make progress,” Anderson said during the news conference. “In my judgment it’s one of those issues that everybody … ought to be able to pull that out and see that as a noncontroversial, nonpolitical issue. Can’t we say it really makes sense not only for their sake but for our sake because of all the benefits from having a more educated population?”

The report found that immigrants total about 146,000 in Arkansas, about 5 percent of the state’s 1.9 million residents. Nationally, immigrants make up 13 percent of the population.

The report said a majority of immigrants in the state, 51 percent, are from Mexico, 7 percent are from El Salvador, 4 percent from India, 3 percent each from Vietnam, Laos, Germany and the Philippines, and 2 percent from Guatemala, Korea, Canada and China.

The report said that 42 percent of immigrants in the state are undocumented, compared to 29 percent nationally.

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lachowsj
5768
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lachowsj 01/08/13 - 10:19 pm
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Population

The state's population is more than 2.9 million, not the 1.9 million mentioned in the article. If the immigrant total is 146,000, that is about 5% of 2.9 million.

MessiahAndrw
1356
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MessiahAndrw 01/09/13 - 01:45 pm
1
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Reason to keep me around

Reason to keep me around :)

"Immigrants fill many low-wage manufacturing jobs in Arkansas" - I remember reading something about undocumented workers that earn less than minimum wage are somewhat good for the economy since it keeps cheap manufacturing in the country (they can't complain or they'd be extradited) - even if not humanely moral.

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 01/09/13 - 01:51 pm
2
3
the flip side is
Unpublished

"The report said that 42 percent of immigrants in the state are undocumented, compared to 29 percent nationally."

So, does this mean they are not paying county property tax and state income tax?

Economic impact, indeed.

Not saying they shouldn't be here, but they should play fairly....

lachowsj
5768
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lachowsj 01/09/13 - 07:11 pm
3
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For those who play fairly

For those who play fairly, avoid criminal conduct and work hard for a period of time there should be a path to citizenship.

Turgin
48
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Turgin 01/09/13 - 09:21 pm
1
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Criminal conduct indeed

"avoid criminal conduct"
You mean like being here illegally?

reader
19398
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reader 01/10/13 - 06:43 am
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Immigration law

is administrative law, not criminal law. It is not criminal to be in the U.S. without proper documentation or permission, but it is a violation of administrative law.

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 01/10/13 - 07:14 am
2
3
semantics
Unpublished

It's still unfair to Africans, Asians, Eastern Europeans and such to have selective enforcement of the laws.

Unless of course...everyone here is cool with discrimination?

BuzzBy
17777
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BuzzBy 01/10/13 - 07:20 am
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No So
Unpublished

In the USSR go try to hang out in Russia ETC and see where you end up!
COMRADE

And I think it is against the law to enter the US without permission ask a border guard or watch National Geo.

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