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Economist: Immigration reform has unknown impact

PHOENIX -- A Valley economist said the impact of immigration reform on Arizona's economy is still unknown.

"States might incur additional costs if the immigrants are eligible for additional state programs," said Jim Rounds. "While I think there are some positives on the revenue side, there's expenditures related to it. A family of four would have to make a significant income before they're net contributors to Arizona in terms of taxes paid versus benefits received. It's not as cut and dry as the federal government is publishing. We have to be cautious about reading all of these optimistic reports about how much income is going to be generated."

The Social Security Administration claimed a Senate bill to reform immigration would boost the retirement program's trust fund and help the economy. The administration estimated the Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill would add three million jobs, increase the country's gross domestic product by 1.63 percent and shore up the social security fund over the next decade.

Rounds said those numbers appear overly optimistic.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said allowing 11 million people who are largely low-skilled to access U.S. taxpayer-funded social benefits will cost more than it generates: Approximately $6 trillion in the next 50 years.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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