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Supreme Court immigration case could boost Oregon tax collections

News Release
April 18, 2016 Download PDF

Today the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether to uphold an Obama administration executive order on immigration. Upholding the order would not only protect some 59,000 undocumented Oregonians from deportation, but also increase the amount of tax revenue collected by Oregon state and local governments, according to a new study by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

“Undocumented workers contribute to Oregon’s economy in many ways, including supporting our schools and other public services by paying taxes,” said Center analyst Tyler Mac Innis, who put the current state and local taxes payments of Oregon undocumented workers at about $78 million. “Their tax contributions would grow if they gained legal status.”

The case before the Supreme Court, United States v. Texas, will decide the fate of a 2014 executive order by President Obama allowing certain undocumented parents and children to apply for temporary legal status. That executive order created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and expanded the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In response, Texas led a group of 25 states (not including Oregon) in suing the federal government to block the executive order.

“Today, across the country, thousands of American families are demonstrating their support for the president’s immigration action,” said Andrea Miller, executive director of Causa, an Oregon immigrant rights organization. “We know that the DAPA and expanded DACA stand on the right side of the law, and we know that these programs will go a long way to keep hundreds of families together and improve their economic security right here in Oregon.”

When previously undocumented workers gain legal status, they tend to earn and consume more goods and services, the Center explained. The increased earnings and consumption means that they also contribute more in income, property and excise taxes. And because they must also abide by state and local tax systems, legal status for previously undocumented workers increases the number of workers paying income taxes.

Should the Supreme Court uphold the Obama administration’s executive order on immigration, Oregon state and local governments would see an additional $17 million in tax revenue, according to the Center.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy (www.ocpp.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision-making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.