Undocumented Indian immigrants in US ‘significant economic contributors’, says report


Undocumented immigrants from Indian in the US, who over half a million, are apparently a goldmine to the US economy, says to a new study.

This undocumented community hold a collective spending power of USD15.5 billion and contributes USD2.8 billion to the federal, state and local tax revenue, says the report.

Using the latest available American Community Survey data from 2019 in its latest research, the new American Economy think-tank said undocumented Indian immigrants are the top third contributor to the US economy among other undocumented immigrants.

Of 10.3 million undocumented immigrants in the US, the report analyzed the top five countries of origin — Mexico with 4.2 million, El Salvador with 6,21,000, India with 5,87,000, Guatemala with 5,61,000 and Honduras with 4,16,000 undocumented immigrants.

Though India is the third-largest in this group, it was the second-highest in terms of household income ($18.3 billion), spending power ($15.5 billion) and contributions to federal, state and local tax revenue ($2.8 billion) in 2019, according to the study.

In 2019 alone, they earned almost USD92 billion in household income and contributed almost USD9.8 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

During the period between 2010 and 2017, 3,30,000 Indians overstayed their visas, from among nearly 3.5 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country in that period — far more than from any other country, according to the Centre for Migration Studies.

Mexican undocumented immigrants held more than USD82.2 billion in spending power, money that often goes back into local economies as they spend on housing, consumer goods and services, the report said.

With its USD15.5 billion of spending power, India, however, holds the second position, followed by El Salvador (USD11.5 billion), Guatemala (USD9.1 billion) and Honduras (USD6.4 billion).

They also make significant contributions to the federal, state and local tax revenue: India (USD2.8 billion), El Salvador (USD1.4 billion), Guatemala (USD1.1 billion) and Honduras (USD778 million), the report said.

In a The New York Times report, Kalpana Peddibhotla, a San Francisco-based immigration lawyer, explains that these undocumented Indian immigrants stay because they build their lives there by buying homes and having children.

These undocumented Indian immigrants are also less likely to participate in census surveys for fear of exposing themselves and being deported. Therefore, censuses usually factor in an “undercount”.

In January, the Biden administration unveiled its “ambitious” US Citizenship Act of 2021, currently being deliberated in Congress. Central to the legislation is the goal to give about 11 million undocumented immigrants an eight-year path to become citizens.

If passed, the bill will allow illegal immigrants to live and work in the US for five years after passing background checks and paying taxes. They can then apply for a green card and become permanent residents with the opportunity to win citizenship after three more years.