The Times Picayune
Immigrants make New Orleans a much stronger community
March 29, 2017
by Bill Quigley and Audrey Stewart
We all work hard to make New Orleans succeed. But there's one group of friends and neighbors we can't do without. They contribute $7.6 billion to the greater New Orleans metropolitan area's economy. They pay $73.8 million in state and local taxes, plus $213.2 million in federal taxes. They're nearly twice as likely to own their own businesses as the average New Orleanian, with their businesses generating $174 million in income in 2014 alone.
That group is our fellow New Orleanians who were born in another country.
The city of New Orleans released a report
last week called "New Americans in Greater New Orleans: A Snapshot of the Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the Metropolitan Area." It demonstrates with data what we already know from our families, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities of faith: immigrants and refugees in New Orleans are a vibrant part of our city's economy, culture and strength.
New Orleans has survived far worse than Trump's threat to withhold federal grants.
They come from a variety of countries -- Honduras, Vietnam, Mexico, Nicaragua and India are the top five. They are working in a variety of sectors, including food processing, construction, manufacturing, professional services and tourism, whether as employees of local businesses, self-employed, or as business owners themselves. More than a quarter of New Orleans' "main street" businesses are owned by immigrants.
Most foreign-born New Orleanians are long-term residents: more than 64 percent of them have been in the United States for more than 10 years. And they help keep jobs here that our community needs. The report estimates that in 2014 alone, immigrants helped create or preserve 4,285 local manufacturing jobs that we otherwise wouldn't have.
Despite the contributions the report details, many immigrants and refugees in the metro area report living in constant fear --especially at a time when the Trump administration is criminalizing and demonizing them en masse for political gain. They worry about being subjected to racial profiling and arrested by immigration enforcement simply for going about their daily lives: dropping their children off for school, going to work, their place of worship, or the grocery store.