Migrants who have made their way to Long Island after arriving...

Migrants who have made their way to Long Island after arriving in New York City as part of the ongoing crisis have pumped millions into the region's economy, according to a new report. Credit: Bloomberg/Victor J. Blue

Asylum-seekers have pumped millions into Long Island's economy since arriving to the region by the thousands, according to a report that comes amid the third calendar year of the migrant crisis.

The report, released Monday by the Immigration Research Initiative and the Ellis Island Initiative, found that for every 1,000 migrants who arrive on Long Island, roughly $3 million is paid in local tax revenue — with that number growing to up to $4 million within five years.

It comes as nearly 100,000 asylum-seeking migrants have made their way to New York City within the past 18 months. The city is poised to spend more than $12 billion to manage the migrant crisis through fiscal 2025, according to Mayor Eric Adams.

Critics contend the report ignores the costs associated with new migrants, including mandatory public services such as education. But while Long Island lawmakers have been reluctant to accept city migrants, the region has nonetheless seen asylum-seekers move into Nassau and Suffolk counties in recent years, experts said.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A new report found that for every 1,000 newly arrived working migrants on Long Island, roughly $3 million is generated in local tax revenue, with that figure increasing to up to $4 million within five years.
  • Critics said the report ignores the fiscal cost of new migrants, including social service programs and education, noting that ultimately they create a fiscal drain on the larger economy.
  • The study comes as New York City continues to struggle with ways to house the thousands of asylum-seekers arriving each month, with the costs expected to exceed $12 billion in the coming years.

Migrant workers

Those migrants, some of whom have been granted temporary or permanent work permits, earn a median wage of $27,000 annually, while paying an estimated $3 million in state and local taxes as servers, janitors, cashiers, housekeepers, movers, home health aides as well as child care and construction workers, the report found. Most migrant families, according to the report, have two wage earners.

Those wages typically increase to $35,000 per year within five years, with the tax revenue ticking up to $4 million annually as migrants move into more skilled positions such as teaching assistants and licensed practical nurses, said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director of the Manhattan-based nonprofit Immigration Research Initiative, which bills itself as nonpartisan and studies the economic, social, and cultural inclusion of immigrants in the United States.

“Are there challenges in the beginning? Sure. But we should have confidence that, in the long run, newly arriving immigrants will do the same thing immigrants have always done,” Kallick said. “The parents will get jobs. Families will learn English. The kids will grow up, and, as they do, they tend to knock the ball out of the stadium, with second generations doing better than all other groups.”

Anthony Capote, a senior policy analyst at the Immigration Research Initiative, said initially “there's a net cost,” as migrants integrate into new communities. 

“But in the long run, there's a net benefit,” he said. “And I think that's been established.”

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who has fiercely opposed efforts to relocate city migrants to the area, said the group's report tells only part of the story.

“The statistics don't take into account that over $27 million in state and federal taxes are used to subsidize these migrants,” Blakeman said. “So for the average taxpayer it is a $24 million deficit, not a $3 million asset.”

The office of new Republican Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine did not respond to a request for comment.

Billions in income taxes

Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that also describes itself as nonpartisan and studies the financial implications of legal and illegal immigration, said that nationwide, migrants pay nearly $26 billion annually in income taxes, Social Security and Medicare.

But despite growing the economy by an estimated $320 billion each year, migrants ultimately produce a lifetime fiscal drain on the government of about $68,000 per person, he said.

That's because the average migrant receives more in government services than they pay in taxes on comparatively lower wages, while qualifying for a larger percentage of public benefits, Camarota said.

“The idea that illegal immigrants don't pay taxes is completely wrong,” he said. “But that doesn't mean in any way that they are a fiscal benefit.”

Ken Girardin, research director of the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, said the existing situation at the southern border is unprecedented and makes it difficult to readily draw conclusions.

“The number of lawful immigrants arriving in New York dipped during the past decade and remains around historic lows,” Girardin said. “Meanwhile, the increased rate at which southern border migrants have recently arrived in New York City meant most were not getting attached to the economy the way they might have previously.”

The Immigration Research Initiative and the Ellis Island Initiative, a new coalition of labor and business stakeholders, released similar reports Monday on the economic benefits of migrants in New York City, the Lower Hudson Valley and upstate.

“Immigrant workers have made an enormous positive impact on Long Island's economy, and will continue to do so if we give them access to training and family-sustaining job opportunities,” said Onika Shepherd, Long Island political director of 1199 SEIU, a member of the Ellis Island Initiative. “These new findings reinforce the economic opportunity for Long Island if our communities embrace new arrivals and help them thrive.”

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