Misleading Report from Economic Policy Institute

Screen shot 2014-08-13 at 5.18.40 PMThe Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has issued a new report extolling the economic benefits of illegal immigration. It asserts that, “Unauthorized immigrants are good for state and federal budgets.”

The Economic Policy Institute makes clear its policy focus on its website: “EPI proposes public policies that protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers and assesses policies with respect to how they affect those workers.” In the case of this new report, however, EPI appears to be focused on improving the economic conditions of illegal aliens rather than those of low- and middle-income U.S. workers.

The report claims that illegal aliens “…all pay taxes, whether they are income- or sales-based…”. If that is understood to imply that they all pay income taxes, that is clearly wrong. The illegal aliens who work in the underground economy generally have no income taxes withheld and if they file a tax return it is generally to claim taxpayer funds from tax credits. And, while it is clear that no one escapes sales taxes entirely unless they live in one of the few states without a sales tax, the report’s authors surely should know that illegal aliens working off the books and in low-wage jobs, and who often are sending money out of the country to family members left behind are contributing much less in sales taxes than would legal workers holding those jobs. Wages, spending, and sales tax collections would be higher if it were not for the presence of the illegal workers.

In a small dose of reality, the report notes that, “If the economy is weak and does not respond well to change, in the short run an increase in immigration could have the effect of reducing the number of jobs available to native-born workers, particularly those with lower education levels.” But, it suggests that a healthy economy can benefit from expansive immigration. This argument highlights the fact with a miserable economy – like the recession that we have not yet fully recovered from – legal immigrants, illegal aliens and guest workers continue to arrive at more than a million persons a year without any restriction that reflects the state of the economy. As has been documented in other recent studies, as the economy has begun to climb out of its hole, most of the job increases have been taken by foreign workers – not native workers.

Additional FAIR Resources:

Generation Jobless

Cost of Illegal Immigration

State Cost Studies

Visit FAIR’s Immigration Facts for additional information.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    It is local County and State property owners who get stuck with the bill for welfare, healthcare and education for illegal aliens. NOT the Feds who only pay for Food Stamps under the Bush program. Stupid Santuary States of Washington, California, New York and Illinois are already bankrupt and are looking to shift the burden Federally so all can share in their stupid misery.

    When was the last time the media reported the alledged “Crisis at the Border”. There is none as illegals have been transported around the country in the middle of the night and reported is the next wave of 30 thousand due this month with nothing having been done about the “trafficing” loophole while Congress went on vacation and Obama went golfing. These people mean to destroy you and your way of life.

  2. avatar
    John WInthrop on

    Carmor you should be banned from FAIR to put it in a harms way…………..to support your add…..if somebody gets hurt…….and they find out the info is form here…Jack would go to jail.

  3. avatar

    I’ve noticed that very few people actually mention the importance of imposing serious fines on US companies (and individuals) who hire illegals. When someone does mention it, the subject goes off to a different area – strengthen the border, etc. Also, when people talk of ‘employers’, they never include the millions of individual families who hire illegal babysitters, maids, gardeners, etc. (I live in CA where this is an enormous problem, especially with childcare – not just for wealthy families but for lower middle class and above…)

    Yet, if serious fines are imposed on all employers, all landlords, et al – and government aid/services to illegals are ended – the problem is pretty much solved. The other issue is to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of US taxpayers who pay property taxes going to fund illegals attending public schools.

    Folks, this problem is enormous – almost at a breaking point:
    7 out of every 10 babies born in CA are to illegals -who were able to have their babies only by being on welfare.
    There are more than 10 million tax returns each year (number growing each year) which have false Social Security numbers.
    Billions each year are stolen from the taxpayer by illegals via ACTC – additional child tax credit – lies and abuses.
    I could go on, and on…. And I haven’t mentioned the illegal billion-dollar drug cartels now operating in every major (and minor) city in the US.

    If we intend to get serious on this issue – which is the most important issue facing the nation – then it’s time to shift the focus to what we can do and not merely what we should do…

    So let’s focus on this, and only elect those candidates for public office who agree in writing to the following specific solutions:

    End chain migration
    Restrict ‘birthright citizenship’ to those with at least 1 parent a US citizen
    End all (federal/state/local) funding for illegals
    *Note: I often hear of the critical need for the US to help illegals with emergency medical care. Why? What I mean is, why are illegals so special in this area of medical care? All hospitals have reserve funds in their annual budgets for the uninsured – and illegals fit in this category. They don’t need any special category of funding. As far as hospitals are concerned, illegals are merely uninsured. So we don’t need any federal/state aid in this (or any) area for illegals.

    Restrict enrollment in public schools to US citizens
    Severe fines for employers (including individuals and families) who hire illegals – knowingly or not. Likewise for landlords who rent to illegals.
    1st offense: 10% of gross revenues (or income in the case of individuals);
    2nd offense: 20% of gross revenues;
    3rd offense: business license revoked – in all of US – for 3 years – this applies to both the company and also to the individual owners themselves.

    If you don’t want to get serious on this issue, keep voting and believing in those politicos who endlessly speak so eloquently of ‘strengthening the borders’… Good luck with that.

    But if you’re serious about solving this issue which has impacted our entire country – and in fact, changed our entire country – then please give the above careful consideration.

    • avatar
      John WInthrop on

      Tom you are wrong………….misleading information……………………..you forgot to add our own AMericans….so the illegals are less than 1% of it and mostly our…IGNORANCE and UNEDUCATED PEOPLE are a BLISS>>>>

  4. avatar

    It says right on their website that “The Social Security Administration estimates that 75% of unauthorized immigrants are actually on formal payrolls..” Which means 25% are not. No taxes of any kind taken out, whether it’s federal or local. No payments made by their employers to any state required funds like unemployment. If legal citizens or residents had these jobs, then taxes would be paid.

    It also notes what is well known. Many illegals are using fake or stolen SS numbers. If a number is fake, and SS has no record of it’s origin, why is it allowed to be used? If two or more people are using a number, only one has a right to do so. This is again a case where we could easily and inexpensively be enforcing the law without passing any new laws. If someone is hired and the SS number comes back as suspect, the person who has it legally will have no problem proving it within a short period while letting them work. If anyone can’t the employer should have to let that person go.

  5. avatar

    With the Current Job Scarcity and P/T and Severely Underpaid Employment Replacing Good Jobs

    I’ve come to the conclusion we do need to revamp our federal tax codes, and like sanctuary state New York is doing to attract business for jobs [take taxes off the companies in the state], whether the the other liberals know it or not, taxing the job providers reduces employment or it moves out of your state. Therefore, I suggest going to one tax table, single, no more married or head of household. Why? Because hogging two scarce jobs per household today with tax advantages is unworkable when 40% of the households are losing a job the last 5 years. To be fair, I’d eliminate the children tax advantages too and the Earned Income Tax Credit that attracts IAs.

    • avatar
      arnlof sweigeir ft on

      That is a lazy conclusion…..use your brains for a second….if u r not self independent… Then u depend on others to give u a job…….so what is the Answer then….u sit And wait to have no job???

  6. avatar

    This makes no common sense at all ! They must really think we are stupid. Hate when they do that.

  7. avatar

    Remember when the federal government sued Arizona over it’s enforcement laws and California joined the suit? The reason they did is because they claimed it would cause illegals to move to other states like California. If illegals were such a big plus they would want more. I guess they looked at the figures for Los Angeles County where over 20% of all welfare goes to families of an illegal with US born children. Of course, the excuse there is that the children are US citizens. Yes, they are, due to their parent’s illegal actions and the children will be taxpayer supported their entire childhoods.

    And in some states, food is exempt from sales taxes. If eight illegals are living in a two bedroom apartment and buying large bags of rice and beans to eat, and sending half their money home, this is an advantage to the local economy how?

    • avatar
      Nancy Cuddeback on

      I couldn’t have said it better! And making them legal will actually cost us even more money. Not only will they not pay any income tax because of low wages and many dependents. They will not pay any Social Security taxes either. Because they’ll claim the Child Tax Credit and get money back on that too. So, they get credit for paying into Social Security but not actually pay. And eventually the system will collapse. Yeah, if they’re so good for California’s economy, then why is the state billions of dollars in the hole?

    • avatar
      arnlof sweigeir ft on

      Who cares…..besides….if he is your friend…then u probably did the same thing..OK what is 20%?…..of what…..the total.illegal.population is the us population….what is the total welfare population and its correlation to Non illegals parents….and its demographic s…….if really small then we r fine…..else we r in D’s….

        • avatar
          John WInthrop on

          Total US Welfare population…………..besides they are US citizens,….but since you opposed any progress in immigration for the US to survive and fix it……it is your own fault in your own backyard…you deserve it.