BATON ROUGE – New American Economy (NAE) has released a Map the Impact report, which highlights the economic, voting and other impacts immigrants have on their respective states, cities, congressional districts and industries and uses that data as a basis for its call for immigration reform efforts across the country.
“Mayor (Mitch) Landrieu believes America is a nation of immigrants and our diversity is a strength,” Tyronne B. Walker, senior adviser and communications director for the Office of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, told the Louisiana Record. “It is a fact that immigrants make considerable impacts to our local and national economy.”
Map the Impact includes information on immigrant tax contributions, spending power, entrepreneurship, workforce, homeownership, demographics and voting power.
“This data puts the economic power of America’s immigrants in stark relief,” NAE chairman John Feinblatt said in a release. “Across the map, and in every industry, immigrants strengthen the economies of big cities and small towns alike.”
According to the information specific to Louisiana, an influx of immigrants came to the state between 2010 and 2014 to assist in rebuilding the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. The report shows that those immigrants stayed in Louisiana and are helping the local economy as taxpayers, entrepreneurs and consumers.
Professions with the highest share of foreign-born employees in Louisiana include crop production, building service, household workers, ship and boat building, travel agents, painters, construction and maintenance workers and factory workers.
In addition, NAE found that 7.5 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers in the state are immigrants. Foreign nationals also make up 27.2 percent of STEM field master’s degree students and 50.4 percent of STEM Ph.D. candidates.
According to the report, a total of 4 percent, or 184,304 residents, in Louisiana in 2014 were immigrants. Those foreign-born workers paid $1.4 billion in taxes in that year and brought $3.6 billion in spending power to the region.
NAE data showed that there were 16,440 immigrant entrepreneurs in Louisiana in 2014, and 39,052 Louisiana residents were employed by firms owned by immigrants.
Walker said the report found that 26.6 percent of main street businesses in the Greater New Orleans Area are owned by immigrants.
“These businesses are creating valuable jobs, often helping to revitalize blighted commercial corridors, and provide key neighborhood services to local residents,” Walker said.
Additionally, NAE said “immigrants are far more likely to be of working age” in Louisiana than those who were born in the United States. In fact, NAE reported that 72.7 percent of the population share in the state between the ages of 25 and 64 in Louisiana are foreign-born.
“Map the Impact shows that the foreign born are helping to grow the economy everywhere,” NAE said in the release. “The map serves as a go-to resource on the power that immigrants wield in the United States.”
Finally, NAE’s data revealed that 78,442 of immigrants in Louisiana will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Given the relatively slim margin of victory in the state for the 2012 presidential election, these immigrants could have a significant voice in the state and country’s future.
“Voting is a key tenet of American democracy,” Walker said. “Anyone eligible for citizenship is encouraged to gain citizenship and participate fully in our democracy.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy did not respond to a request for comment on the report, and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy declined an interview request, citing scheduling conflicts.