RELEASE: The Economic Impact of Legalization vs. Deportation in Arizona

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Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center released the report “A Rising Tide or a Shrinking Pie: The Economic Impact of Legalization Versus Deportation in Arizona,” by UCLA professor Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda and CAP’s Marshall Fitz.

The joint CAP and IPC analysis reveals that deporting large numbers of undocumented immigrants in Arizona would lead to a large decrease in total employment for immigrants and native-born workers alike, would contract the state’s economy and would result in a significant loss of tax revenue. Conversely, a legalization program—requiring all undocumented immigrants to register, undergo background checks, pay taxes, and learn English—would create jobs, increase employment, and boost tax revenues.

Angela M. Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy, said:

There is a subtle but significant shift in the winds. More and more, states are recognizing how toxic anti-immigrant measures are to a state’s economic health. Business leaders from bright red Republican states like Utah and Wyoming are rejecting measures that deport first and ask questions later. Why? Because expelling residents from states with fragile economies is bad for business.

Analysis from the report’s authors shows that deporting all of the state’s undocumented immigrants would:

  • Decrease total employment by 17.2 percent
  • Eliminate 581,000 jobs for immigrant and native-born workers alike
  • Shrink the state economy by $48.8 billion
  • Reduce state tax revenues by 10.1 percent

Conversely, legalizing all of the state’s undocumented immigrants would:

  • Increase total employment by 7.7 percent
  • Add 261,000 jobs for immigrant and native-born workers alike
  • Increase labor income by $5.6 billion
  • Increase tax revenues by $1.68 billion

The analysis demonstrates unequivocally that undocumented immigrants sustain the jobs of both native-born and immigrant workers in the U.S. economy through the work they perform, the money they spend, and the taxes they pay. The jobs of many Americans would vanish if undocumented immigrants were all deported. In contrast, if undocumented immigrants acquired legal status their wages and productivity would increase, they would spend more in our economy and pay more in taxes, and new jobs would be created.

To speak with CAP’s experts on this issue, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or

Read the report.

Listen to the press call. (mp3)