Dallas Fed: Migrants vital to Texas economy

While President Donald Trump continues to hammer the U.S.-Mexico border and illegal immigration, a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said immigrants, especially those from Mexico and Central America, power the vast Texas economy.

Trump said Monday morning that he hopes Mexico “will stop people from coming through their country and into ours, at least until Congress changes our immigration laws!”

Those Central Americans Trump referred to make up 8 percent of the state’s foreign-born population, the study said.

Despite the range of politics revolving around immigrants, Texas sees great value from them, according to the study released March 29. Those from Mexico and Central America tend to be lower-skilled immigrants, the study said.

“Low-skilled immigrants tend to work in construction, agriculture, domestic service, building janitorial services and food preparation,” the study states. “In Texas, 54 percent of construction laborers, 56 percent of gardeners, 63 percent of painters and 63 percent of housekeepers are foreign born.”

Mexicans have made up a large portion of these positions, while international migrants as a whole constitute 23 percent of the state’s workers.

“Arrivals from Mexico have historically dominated immigration to Texas,” the study states. “Willing workers have provided a steady stream of new hires for more than 100 years. Many individuals in recent decades came as undocumented immigrants.”

While the undocumented population helps the Texas workforce, the study said immigrant apprehensions have declined sharply this century.

“Migrant apprehensions along the southwest border have declined 75 percent from their peak of 1.6 million in 2000,” the study reads.

Even though undocumented immigrants make up large percentages of various Texas industries, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week that it plans to insert a citizenship question when conducting the 2020 census.

The Dallas Fed study contradicted this Trump Administration proposal.

“It bears noting that census and Bureau of Labor Statistics date include both legal and illegal immigration,” the study states. “Population surveys make a point not to ask about legal status in order to obtain an accurate count.”

Another policy that is putting the lives of many immigrants in limbo is the uncertainty of what will happen with two programs: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival and Temporary Protection Status.

“Among the undocumented in the postrecession period, about 120,000 Texas immigrants came as children and obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status,” the study reads. “Other immigrants targeted by recent policies include those with Temporary Protection Status (TPS), including 36,300 Salvadorans and 8,500 Hondurans in Texas.

“Amid federal moves to strip legal status from both DACA and TPS groups, it is likely Texas’ undocumented immigrant population will increase.”

Texas received 660,000 migrants from outside the United States from 2010 to 2017, according to the study.