Minnesota’s largest business association published a lengthy report Wednesday touting the economic value of immigrants and calling for comprehensive immigration reform.
In the 60-page report, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce argued that undocumented immigrants should be offered a pathway to legal status, that immigrants should be viewed as a form of valuable capital, and that the state may need to shift funding from existing economic development programs to help immigrants integrate, encourage immigrant entrepreneurship and pay for immigrant job training and placement.
The report calls for a “21st century perspective” on immigration, which acknowledges that immigrants are not just workers, but also entrepreneurs, consumers and a bridge to the global economy.
Foreign-born households in Minnesota have a combined buying power of $5 billion per year and pay an estimated $793 million each in state and local taxes, the report said. By 2020, immigrants will have accounted for about a fifth of the state’s growth in homeownership, and they tend to revitalize depressed neighborhoods.
About 44,500 Minnesota businesses are immigrant-owned, the report said, and those businesses are more likely to export than native-owned firms.
And as workers, immigrants tend to fill high or low skill jobs that might otherwise go unfilled. The average immigrant worker tends to be younger than native-born workers, and while immigrants comprise only 7 percent of the state’s population, they comprise 9 percent of the workforce.
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