A recent report by the Texas State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn says that overall, illegal immigrants put about $420 million more into state coffers than they take out.
An official state document that contradicts the idea that immigrants are a financial burden can carry considerable weight as Democrats take control of Congress, and as potential candidates consider their options in the 2008 presidential election.
Supporters of illegal immigrants embraced the report. John Trasviña, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said it "confirms what MALDEF and immigration experts have long known -- we all benefit from the contributions of immigrants."
The Texas study may be the first by a state, but it is hardly the first of its kind. Previous studies on the financial impact of illegal immigrants have been undertaken by a number of groups, including the nonpartisan Urban Institute and the Center for Immigration Studies.
Undocumented workers in the Washington area, according to the Urban Institute, pay a hefty share of taxes, but they contribute less than they should because many are paid off the books and do not file yearly tax forms. A report by the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors reduced immigration, said that illegal-immigrant households imposed $26 billion in costs on the federal government while paying $16 billion in taxes. This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities raided meatpacking plants in six states in search of illegal immigrants they said were using illegally obtained Social Security numbers.