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Oregon group: undocumented workers are taxpayers, too

Catholic Sentinel Catholic Sentinel file photo. Archbishop John Vlazny distributes Communion during Mass at migrant worker camp.

Catholic Sentinel file photo. Archbishop John Vlazny distributes Communion during Mass at migrant worker camp.

February 8, 2012

Oregonians should recognize the important contribution undocumented workers make to the state's economy, says a report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

The center's study estimates that undocumented immigrants in Oregon pay between $154 million and $309 million annually in taxes. That includes $68 million to $136 million in state and local income, excise and property taxes.

The report, which updates a 2007 document, says undocumented immigrants earn $2.3 billion to $4.5 billion a year, much spent on goods and services purchased from Oregon businesses.

The Silverton based center says it stands with the poor and believes in "the equitable distribution of the economy's benefits."

The report estimates Oregon is home to 110,000 to 220,000 unauthorized immigrants. Census data shows that the typical undocumented household earns $36,000 a year. Such workers are concentrated in farming, grounds-keeping, building maintenance, construction and food preparation.

Though undocumented workers are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits, some Oregon employers pay unemployment taxes in their names. That's money eligible laid off employees get to use.

Neither do undocumented workers qualify for Medicaid, food stamps or Social Security.