The immigrant community in Fresno is paying about $1 billion in annual taxes and contributing more than $3 billion annually to the local economy.
Those were among the statistics revealed Wednesday in the first annual New American Economy Cities index for integrating immigrant communities, which ranked Fresno 35th out for 100 large U.S. cities. The numbers related to taxes and spending power were based on 2014 numbers, according to the index.
Fresno Council President Esmeralda Soria said the index looked at cities’ policies and practices, socioeconomic outcomes related to inclusivity, job opportunities, economic prosperity, livability and civic participation.
She said Fresno’s been making City Hall accessible to diverse groups by translating agendas into Spanish and Hmong, and adding translation services to meetings. “In the city of Fresno, if we look at the numbers, 11.9 percent of immigrants... are entrepreneurs,” she said. “They are ... a vital component to our local economy. .. and a 44 percent of them are homeowners.”
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Chris Valadez of the California Fresh Fruit Association is glad to see where Fresno landed on the index. Much of the debates on immigration reform, he said, have missed the point of immigrants’ economic contributions made. That includes newcomers and those here for generations.
“In the Fresno metro area, immigrants pay more than $1 billion in annual taxes and invest over $3 billion into the local economic purchasing power,” Valadez said. “Just imagine the multiplier for the state of California, alone... That’s a significant story that I think we need to continue to tell our policymakers, particularly back in D.C., but also here in Sacramento.”
Michael Saragosa, representing New American Economy, said immigrants for the index were defined as those who’ve come here from other countries, the undocumented, those here on visas, and legal permanent residents or naturalized U.S. citizens.
Samuel Molina, Mi Familia Vota state director, said around 800 immigrants become naturalized citizens in Fresno monthly. In 2016 more than 44,400 became naturalized.