Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Mass Deportation Policy Would Reduce Workforce by 5 Percent; Take Cumulative $4.7 Trillion Off GDP; and Cost $900 Billion in Lost Revenue, Says New CAP Report
Press Release

RELEASE: Mass Deportation Policy Would Reduce Workforce by 5 Percent; Take Cumulative $4.7 Trillion Off GDP; and Cost $900 Billion in Lost Revenue, Says New CAP Report

Press Contacts

  • Tanya Arditi

Analysis shows that every state, particularly those with the largest numbers of unauthorized immigrants—California, Texas, New York, and New Jersey—will experience the largest declines in state GDP, with effects spread across industries.

Washington, D.C. — Every day, immigrants in every state and in every industry across the United States contribute to the country’s economy. Immigrant labor and entrepreneurship are believed to be powerful forces of economic revitalization for communities struggling with population decline. With a level of granularity not achieved by any previous analyses, a new report from the Center for American Progress estimates that a policy of mass deportation would remove 7 million workers from the U.S. economy, reducing the total number of U.S. workers by nearly 5 percent; wiping a cumulative $4.7 trillion off of our nation’s gross domestic product, or GDP, over a decade; costing the federal government nearly $900 billion in lost revenue over 10 years; and reducing the workforce’s hard-hit industries such as agriculture, construction, and leisure by between 10 percent and 18 percent. To see how each state would be affected by losses in each industry, please see the interactive map that accompanies this report.

Using standard economic methods that incorporate literature by leading economists on all sides of the immigration debate, CAP’s report estimates national figures for lost GDP by each individual industry, lost revenue, and increased debt-to-GDP ratio, as well as state- and industry-specific figures.

The report’s findings include:

  • Mass deportation would ultimately reduce the nation’s GDP by 2.6 percent, or $4.7 trillion, over a decade. Removing the 7 million unauthorized workers would reduce national employment by an amount similar to that experienced during the Great Recession.
  • Mass deportation would cost the federal government nearly $900 billion in lost revenue over 10 years. Combined with interest payments, the United States would see a 6 percent increase in its debt-to-GDP ratio, a common measure of fiscal sustainability.
  • Hard-hit industries would see double-digit reductions of 10 percent to 18 percent or more in their workforces, since unauthorized workers are unevenly spread across industries, with the highest concentrations employed in agriculture, construction, and leisure and hospitality.
  • The largest declines in GDP would occur in the largest U.S. industries—financial activities, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade—not just in immigrant-heavy industries. Because industries also vary in size, losses in value added to the national GDP stemming from removal occur across many industries not usually associated with unauthorized labor. Annual long-run GDP losses in those industries would reach $54.3 billion, $73.8 billion, and $64.9 billion, respectively, the three largest effects among the 12 private-sector industries.
  • States with the most unauthorized workers—California, Texas, New York, and New Jersey—would experience the largest declines in state GDP, with effects spread across all states and all industries. For example, GDP in California would ultimately fall by $103 billion annually—roughly a 5 percent drop.

“Mass deportation is a policy of all loss and no gain,” said Tom Jawetz, CAP Vice President of Immigration Policy. “Poll after poll demonstrates that the American people support a practical approach to our outdated immigration system, one that increases the prosperity of all Americans and provides a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants rather than a fiscally irresponsible policy focused on the removal of all unauthorized immigrants from the country. Aside from the enormous human and social costs of mass deportation, such a policy would have devastating economic and fiscal consequences that our states and our country cannot afford.”

CAP will be holding a press call tomorrow, Thursday, September 22, at 11:00 a.m. EST with immigration, labor, and business experts to discuss the report’s findings and the economic impact and contributions of immigrants. To request dial-in information, please email Tanya Arditi at the address below.

Read the full report, “The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers: An Industry- and State-Level Analysis,” here.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Tanya Arditi at tarditi@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6258.

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