Why Immigrant Integration Matters to Orange County
Immigrant integration is the process of economic mobility and social inclusion for newcomers and their children. As such, integration touches upon the institutions and mechanisms that promote development and growth within society, including early childhood care; elementary, postsecondary, and adult education systems; workforce development; health care; provision of services to communities with linguistic diversity; and more.
Benefits of Immigrant Integration
Immigrants’ skills, energy, and fresh ideas promote economic vitality—in neighborhoods, communities, states, and the country as a whole. Consider that undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $3.3 billion in California State and local taxes in 20121 —enough to hire more than 57,000 police officers2 or 80,000 teachers3. Successful integration builds communities that are stronger economically and more inclusive socially and culturally. The significant benefits of effective immigrant integration include:
- Keep families healthy. Three out of five unauthorized immigrants lack health insurance, but that rate drops by more than half for immigrants with legal status.4
- Keep families together. An average of one child in every classroom has an unauthorized immigrant parent. Research shows children perform worse in the classroom when worried about parents’ immigration status.5 Encouraging immigrants to pursue legal status – as already available to them under federal law – allows children to focus on school and live without fear of losing their parents.
- Keep families living above the poverty line. One in five unauthorized immigrants lives below the poverty line, but the household income of immigrant families who gain legal status rises by nearly a third.6 In California, the increase in parental earnings as a result of temporary legal status will bring an estimated 40,000 U.S. citizen children out of poverty.7
- Keep our economy strong. When immigrants obtain legal status and work permits, Orange County’s economy prospers. Almost 60 percent of administrative relief beneficiaries obtain a new jobviii and nearly half increase their job earnings.ix The temporary legal status offered by federally available administrative relief will raise native-born workers’ wages by an average of $170 and beneficiaries’ earnings by six to 10 percent.
The Orange County economy is strongest when more residents prosper. When immigrant communities can fully participate in the economic life of our county, the health and prosperity of our entire region will benefit.