Rockefeller Foundation Study on Immigration Debunked

     This article by Bob Hester  was printed as guest editorial in the Jonesboro Sun June 29, 2013 with headline “Rockefeller immigrant study flawed”

 

     In an interview with Sherece West, President and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF), Sherece West said, “So for every one dollar that is spent by state and local government on immigrants, there is actually a $7.00 return to the state of Arkansas. In contrast, a  recent poll found that 68% of Arkansans think illegal immigrants hurt the economy. Only 20% think they helped. 17

But West also said in regard to the costs of  immigrants,  that none of us [citizens] pay for ourselves in terms of how much we consume in education, basic goods and services, healthcare the like,  and agreed that, “We all have a cost.”  Who then pays for all  welfare benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, etc.? Does West and Rockefeller Foundation think the government has a hen that lays golden eggs to provide that money. I guess she means the federal government, which costs us taxpayers NOTHING, pays for all of it.

    Sherece West, WRF CEO: “Even we don’t pay for ourselves in terms of how much we consume around education, basic goods and services, healthcare and the like, we don’t pay for ourselves.”

Fallacies of the Winthrop Rockefeller Immigrant Study

See link to this Rockefeller Study and transcript of  interview with Rockefeller President  and actual video of the interview, and other footnotes at end of this document.

On June 7, KAIT reported that the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation found in their most recent study of immigrants that, “Immigrants are contributing to the social fabric of our state…we found that there was a net positive economic development benefit to having immigrants in our state to the tune of almost $4 billion annually.” 1

A number of fallacies in the Rockefeller study allowed this conclusion. Their study included ONLY the “primary costs” of  “public education, healthcare, and correction.”  The authors admitted, “There are no doubt other significant costs,” but did not include them,  such things as food stamps, and numerous other Arkansas programs for low income families. (Their study uses the term “immigrants” for all foreign born who were not US citizens at birth, including lawful residents and people illegally in the US). 2

These Rockefeller studies have been touted in Arkansas for the last several years by the media and everyone that promote amnesty even though there are numerous reputable studies that give totally different conclusions. 3 For example,  “The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration” of 2007 concluded that  “Each immigrant [like the Rockefeller study includes both legal and illegal immigrants] costs taxpayers more than $9,000. Each four-person immigrant household costs $36,000.” Unlike the Rockefeller study, however, this study examined  all costs of  immigrants, and outlined the costs of immigrants related to fifteen US Departments. 4

This 70 page study was done by Edwin S. Rubenstein, a Manhattan Institute adjunct with a mile-long scholarly resume.  He directed the studies of government waste for the prestigious Grace Commission of 1984 and has been doing financial analysis ever since.  5

Both studies deal with legal and illegal immigrants as one group. However, the Rockefeller study reports that, “In 2010, the share of naturalized citizens among the Arkansas immigrant population was 28%.” So only approximately 28% of  Arkansas immigrants born outside the US  have become citizens. But, there are many thousands of children born to these immigrants in the US that become citizens at birth. 6

There are several fallacies in the Rockefeller study which concludes that “Providing key essential services cost the state an estimated $555 million in 2010. Immigrants’ direct and indirect tax contributions of $524 million largely offset the $555 million cost of essential services provided to immigrant households, creating a small negative fiscal impact on the Arkansas state budget of $31 million – approximately $127 per immigrant household member.”  7

Then the study analyzes the so called “economic impact of immigrants on Arkansas through their purchasing power, business creation, business cost savings, spin-off jobs, and overall contribution to economic growth,” and concludes that, ” there was a net positive economic development benefit to having immigrants in our state to the tune of almost $4 billion annually.” 8

The fallacy here is that the $524 million in taxes these immigrants paid would have been paid by American workers who could have had these jobs if the immigrants had not been here, without the $555 million cost of immigrants.   In addition, the Rockefeller study admits the immigrants sent 16% of their Arkansas income home to families abroad. That money would have stayed in Arkansas if native born citizens held those jobs.  9

That the unauthorized immigrants are taking the jobs of the citizens is one of the major complaints about their being here.  The Rockefeller study unintentionally confirms this by saying, “During the 2008-10 period, Latino immigrant men had the highest employment rate of any group,” and “The number of immigrant construction workers in Arkansas increased fivefold from 2000 through 2008-10,” even though, “Latino immigrants are more likely than other group to lack a high school education.” 10

Including only the fiscal impact to the economy of Arkansas rather than the nation as a whole is another main fallacy of the Rockefeller study.  For example, 47% of the population now pay no federal income tax, and instead many thousands actually get cash back under the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  Illegal aliens also get earned income back using a “Individual Taxpayer Identification Number”  instead of a social security number, and immigrants’  tax refunds are larger because they have more children.  11

According to the Rockefeller study, the median income for Latino immigrants in the 2006-10 period was $20,000.12  In 2012 a family household with three children making $20,000 a year did not pay any federal income tax but received $5,891cash back in earned income. 13 This is in addition to all the other 83 federal benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, assisted housing and utilities, grants, etc.  14

From Arkansas Watch blog

Sixty-one percent of people making $20,000 to $30,000 a year paid no income tax in 2012 according to University of Michigan economist Mark Perry. 15 That means a huge number of immigrants received cash benefits in earned income but paid no federal taxes whatsoever. No wonder the illegal immigrants file federal tax returns.

Families not eligible for earned income paying income tax of  $4,069 on a $30,000 salary or $2,384 on a $20,000 salary are probably not comforted with the Rockefeller report, especially those who lost their jobs to illegal immigrants. 16   A recent poll found that 68% of Arkansans think illegal immigrants hurt the economy. Only 20% think they helped. 17

Those who hawk the Winthrop Rockefeller study should actually read the entire report and then compare it to Rubenstein’s study before influencing people to accept the Rockefeller’s study as valid. Even more important, they should acquaint themselves with the laws on the books and stop encouraging the selective enforcement of our laws that is turning our country into a banana republic.

To see the 17 footnotes & documentation see this link: http://www.wpaag.org/Immigration%20-%20Rockefeller%20Study%20Debunked.htm

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