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Immigration is increasing, and it helps the country's economic growth, a Stamford group says

From left, Building One Community's Board of Directors George Cook, Maryann Kann, Jose Luis Zepeda, and Stamford entrepreneur Carlos Diaz
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
Connecticut Public
From left, George Cooke; former Building One Community Board Member Maryann Kann; Building One Community Board Chair Jose Luis Zepeda; and Stamford entrepreneur Carlos Diaz.

Immigrants to Connecticut make a significant economic impact on the state and beyond, according to speakers at an event organized by the immigrant advocacy group Building One Community.

Anka Badurina, the executive director of Building One Community, was eager to see the community coming together for the conversation earlier this week in Stamford.

“Our intention is to change the narrative, especially such negative rhetoric about the borders,” Badurina said. “It's about to start focusing on the positive aspects of what immigrants really bring to this country.”

Carlos Alvarez, a panelist and entrepreneur, is originally from Guatemala. He said his own journey wasn't easy, but his successful businesses are creating opportunities for all of Stamford.

"Latinos, our community here, we are the backbone of the whole economic system,” Alvarez said. “We do all the hard work, and I feel very proud. We also employ our own people, you know, we help with the economy."

Muzaffar Chishti is a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and director of the MPI at NYU School of Law. He stressed that the nation is built on immigrants who pay taxes, regardless of their legal presence.

“Almost all immigrants pay taxes, even when they are working with someone else's social security number,” Chishti said. “The Social Security system actually keeps those earnings separately. It's actually called a suspense file. And that suspense file has pretty close to $2 trillion in it now. And so these are contributions made by immigrants who will never see the benefits.”

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the immigrant population has climbed to 46 million in the last year, and a study from theInstitute on Taxation and Economic Policy(ITEP) indicates that undocumented immigrants pay about $11 billion in taxes every year.

Many Stamford students have immigrant parents, and they will lead the city's future economic growth, said the superintendent at Stamford Public Schools, Dr. Tamu Lucero, who was also a panelist.

“So often people graduate from high school and they don't know what to do next,” Lucero said. “So we give them opportunities. We have a pathway for finance, one for agriculture, and education. So we want to give them as many experiences as we can while they're in high school.”

Other panelists, such as David Dyssegaard, director of the Immigration Research Initiative, said improving aspects of immigration, including providing additional and clearer paths to legal citizenship, would multiply the positive economic impact.

“That’s, I think, the underline problem,” Dyssegaard said. “But, I think states do best by investing to help people to get their feet on the ground. That is gonna be good for everybody.”

Corrected: September 21, 2023 at 9:11 AM EDT
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Muzaffar Chishti as the senior director of the Migration Policy Institute. He is a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and director of the Migration Policy Institute office at NYU's School of Law. The positions of some of the people in the photo caption were incorrectly identified. They are George Cooke; former Building One Community Board Member Maryann Kann; Building One Community Board Chair Jose Luis Zepeda; and Stamford entrepreneur Carlos Diaz.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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