This Interactive Map On Immigrants' Economic Impact Could Help Shape Immigration Policy

The numbers don't lie.

Like many highly politicized issues, the debate on immigration policy runs high on emotion and low on facts. Many anti-immigration positions are rooted in social biases and framed in an economic argument to rationalize these prejudices. Take, for example, the assertions about immigrants stealing jobs and draining welfare programs — they play directly into the stereotypes of a conniving and lazy immigrant, on top of exacerbating economic concerns. 

Immigrants certainly impact their communities, but how much of it is as negative as the tornado of alarming political rhetoric claims it to be? A new interactive map created by the bipartisan group New American Economy (NAE) is attempting to shed light on the issue by providing a resource to help people understand how immigration affects the communities they live in. Dubbed Map The Impact, the website contains immigrant economic data in all 50 states, and down to every single congressional district in the country, from how much immigrants paid in taxes to the number of employees in immigrant-owned companies. 



Map The Impact is available to the public, but more than that, NAE intended for it to be a tool for lawmakers to use when crafting immigration policy to help the economy grow and create more jobs. Jeremy Robbins at NAE told A Plus that the organization is "working closely" with Congress members from both parties. Over the last two days, Republican Reps. Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, as well as Democratic lawmakers Sens. Kamala Harris and Richard Blumenthal, and Rep. Tim Ryan, participated in events in conjunction with the map's release.

Map The Impact allows users to explore more detailed data as well, like industries with the highest share of foreign-born workers, and the spending power of undocumented immigrants in different states and districts. 

The NAE's goal in creating the map is to dispel the notion that immigrants are taking American jobs. In fact, immigrants are more likely to start businesses, and in doing so they create new jobs for citizens and help shore up the aging American workforce. Immigrants' tax dollars contribute to crucial government programs like Social Security and Medicare that help lift up the most vulnerable Americans. 

That's not to say immigration is the remedy for America's economic woes — there are many legitimate issues with the current immigration policy that affect the economy. But the map hopes to clear up the misconception that immigrants don't support local economies. 

Robbins said that the immigration debate often focuses on traditional immigration destinations like New York, Miami, or California. The map, however, shows otherwise. "The economic impact of immigration is felt profoundly in every single community in the country and across every industry," Robbins said.

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