You’re Welcome in Texas

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Texans are known for our Southern charm and hospitality. Less well known is the fact that welcoming newcomers and visitors is not just true to our values but good for our economy, too.

Today one in six Texans is an immigrant (over 4.2 million people), and a recent CPPP study shows immigrants contribute billions of dollars to our state’s economy. Nationwide, American Immigration Council research reminds us that immigrants work, pay taxes and contribute billions to the U.S. economy.

That’s why groups like the Texas Association of Business support sensible immigration policies. Recognizing the competitive advantage that immigrants bring to our globalizing economy, some cities across the country (including Austin) are also taking the initiative to welcome immigrants.

This Friday marks the start of the 4th annual National Welcoming Week, an effort to recognize immigrant contributions to communities across the country. Event organizers Welcoming America believe – like we do at CPPP – that communities are more vibrant and prosperous when everyone feels welcomed.

Greater awareness of the economic boost immigrants provide to Texas might lead to overall more welcoming attitudes toward newcomers. The good news is that Comptroller Glenn Hegar has a chance to update a State study about how undocumented immigrants benefit the state. The study hasn’t been updated since 2006. A spokesman for the Comptroller’s office told CPPP this week that they are reviewing the studies from previous administrations to decide which studies to update.

As a candidate for Comptroller, Hegar committed to updating the study or performing a new one. The last study found that undocumented immigrants produced more in-state revenue than they used in state services. And the study showed that the absurd idea of deporting the states’ undocumented immigrants would cost the state economy nearly $18 billion. If the CPPP study is any indication, the Texas economy owes much of its success to immigrants and newcomers.

As we wait for the summer heat to break, I am grateful for all the contributions of Texas immigrants – from the barbecue and beer brought by German immigrants, to Czech kolaches, to the ultimate welcoming emblem for our state, the breakfast taco.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

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