The economic impact of mass deportation

Farmworkers in FloridaBy Alan Bean

The “They Take our Jobs” lobby would have you believe that the presence of undocumented residents is driving the United States to the poor house.  Not so, says the Center for American Progress.  In fact, if only 15% of the undocumented population in states like Texas and New Mexico was suddenly deported, the economic impact would be ruinous.

This research indicates that the prevailing policy of mass deportation isn’t just draining the American treasury of your tax dollars at an alarming rate, it is undermining economic stability.  If you doubt this is so, please check out the charts below.  I have copied the information for Texas and New Mexico, but you can find information on Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia as well.

As the report argues:

There is ample reason to suspect that at least a portion of these jobs would not be readily taken by other workers. Immigrants tend to live clustered in certain communities, where there may not be a ready supply of other workers to fill the openings they would leave behind. Additionally, undocumented workers tend to have skill sets that are specific to the industries they work in (for example, construction, home health services, etc.) that often do not match those of the nativeborn unemployed.

The Consequences of Legalization Versus Mass Deportation

Debates about the economic and fiscal benefits and drawbacks of immigrants typically oversimplify the role that immigrants play in our economy. When one looks more closely, they will find that the impact that immigrants (or any group for that matter) have on the economy is multifaceted and complex.

Immigrants are not just workers; they are also consumers and taxpayers. The effects of their labor and consumption on economic growth and fiscal health must be factored in as we consider how to address the situation of a large undocumented workforce.

In this report we describe the direct impacts of either deporting or legalizing undocumented workers in Texas. In reality, the effects would be much larger. Mass deportation, for example, would result in an indirect negative impact on local businesses because there would be less money circulating in the local economy, which would lead to further job losses. The estimates reported here should thus be considered conservative rather than exhaustive.


We estimate the economic contributions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, for Texas. The state has one of the largest populations of unauthorized immigrants, and it has played and will continue to play a pivotal role in elections as a swing state. We then report the negative fiscal impact of four different deportation scenarios—namely what would happen if 15, 30, 50, or 100 percent of undocumented immigrants were removed from the state. Finally, we explore the positive economic outcomes that would result from legalizing undocumented immigrants. (For a detailed explanation of the methodology used, please see the appendix on page 9.)

effects of mass deportation in texas
 effects of mass deportation in new mexico
New Mexico
Dr. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda is the founding director of the North American Integration and Development Center.