Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to ask Americans to try and redefine immigration policy, adding that this is not “about containing a problem,” Newsweek reported.
“Immigration policy isn’t about ‘containing a problem’. It’s about realizing the opportunity & value inherent in all people. Also, for the last time: people who are undocumented pay taxes! Public goods aren’t ‘gifts’ to immigrants – they pay for your kids’ schooling too,” the New York representative said in her tweet.
Indeed, the fact that undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in federal taxes each year often goes overlooked in the immigration debate.
However, studies have long shown that millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. pay taxes—and that immigration reform allowing undocumented immigrants to work in the U.S. legally would boost their state and local tax contributions.
While it is difficult to say exactly how much undocumented immigrants contribute in taxes today, a 2013 report from the Institute On Taxation and Economic Policy highlighted how “the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States” at the time were “already paying a significant share of their income in state and local taxes.”
“Like other people living and working in the United States, undocumented immigrants currently contribute a significant share of their income to state and local taxes,” the report said. “In addition to paying sales and excise taxes when they purchase goods and services like utilities, clothing and gasoline, undocumented immigrants also pay property taxes directly on their homes or indirectly as renters, and at least half are paying income taxes despite lacking legal status.”
Collectively, the report said, undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $10.6 billion in 2010 “with contributions ranging from less than $2 million in Montana to more than $2.2 billion in California.”
“This means these families are likely paying about 6.4 percent on average of their income in state and local taxes,” it said.
The report also stressed that those numbers “would rise under immigration reform.”
“Undocumented immigrants currently contribute significantly to state and local taxes,” the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy said.
At the time, the institute maintained that “allowing undocumented immigrants to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion a year.”
“Their effective state and local tax rate would also increase to 7 percent on average, which would put their tax contributions more in line with documented taxpayers with similar incomes,” it said.