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[Congressional Record: February 14, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E156-E157]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                       HON. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, February 13, 2002

  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight a recently 
released study entitled: ``Chicago's Undocumented Immigrants: An 
Analysis of Wages, Working Conditions, and Economic Contributions.'' 
This report details the importance of the undocumented immigrant labor 
force to the local economy and the poor working conditions that many 
endure. I have included a Washington Post article that appeared on 
February 10, 2001 and the Executive Summary from the study, which 
underscores some of the study's most significant findings.
  This study was carried out during the 3rd quarter of 2001 through 38 
community based organizations, community colleges, social service 
providers, and churches. In total, over 1,600 immigrants were surveyed 
in the Chicago area. The results revealed that the estimated 220,000 
undocumented immigrants in the Chicago area contribute close to $5.5 
billion to the local economy. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants 
create more than 31,000 jobs, make up about 5% of the labor force, and 
7 out of 10 or 70% pay income taxes through payroll deductions. The 
overall impact on the economy is dramatic considering immigrants 
without legal documentation earn anywhere from 22-36% less than those 
here legally.
  This study provides a glimpse into the urban picture of the enormous 
contributions undocumented immigrants provide to our economy and the 
deplorable conditions under which they are subjected to work. With 
close to 6 million undocumented immigrants working and living in the 
United States, the potential impact on the national economy and the 
potential to improve the lives of this population through a 
legalization program are immeasurable, but they all point in the right 
direction. I urge my colleagues to look through this study and see for 

                [From The Washington Post Feb. 10, 2002]

                   Chicago's Undocumented Immigrants

                         (By Robert E. Pierre)

       The push for the legalization of undocumented immigrants 
     was put on the back burner after September's terrorist 
     attacks. But a study released last week reopens the question 
     of what they contribute to the U.S. economy.
       The estimated 220,000 undocumented immigrants in the 
     Chicago area add nearly $ 5.5 billion to the local economy, 
     creating more than 31,000 jobs, according to the study by the 
     Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of 
     Illinois at Chicago. These undocumented workers make up about 
     5 percent of the labor market, the survey indicated--and 
     seven out of 10 pay income taxes through payroll deductions 
     taken by their employers.
       Still, the survey of 1,653 legal and illegal immigrants 
     living in Chicago and five surrounding counties also found 
     that those without legal documentation generally are paid 
     less than those who are legally in the United States. That's 
     true regardless of their education, skill level and English 
     proficiency, particularly among immigrants from Latin 
       ``You can have two workers with exactly the same 
     characteristics, and one will earn 20 to 25 percent less 
     because they don't have legal status,'' said Chirag Mehta, a 
     UIC research associate.
       The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights 
     urged amnesty for such immigrants: ``Such findings confirm 
     the importance of a new legalization program and the positive 
     impact that undocumented immigrant labor has on the United 
     States,'' it said in a statement.


              [From the University of Illinois at Chicago]

   Chicago's Undocumented Immigrants: An Analysis of Wages, Working 
                 Conditions, and Economic Contributions

                           Executive Summary

       Undocumented immigrants are strongly committed to working 
     in the United States and they make significant contributions 
     to the economy. Undocumented workers account for 
     approximately 5% of the Chicago metro area labor market and 
     represent a growing segment of the low-wage workforce. 
     Undocumented immigrants earn low wages, work in unsafe 
     conditions, and have low rates of health insurance. 
     Juxtaposed against these harsh realities is the fact that the 
     undocumented workforce supports thousands of other workers in 
     the local economy, pays taxes, and demonstrates little 
     reliance on government benefits.
       This study reports the findings of a survey of 1,653 
     documented and undocumented immigrants living in the Chicago 
     metro area. Using a standardized questionnaire, immigrants 
     were asked a series of questions regarding their employment 
     status, wages and working conditions, access to health care, 
     utilization of government safety-net programs, demographic 
     characteristics, and legal status. The key questions that 
     guided this analysis include:
       To what extent does working without legal status increase 
     the likelihood of unemployment and depress workers'wages?
       To what extent do undocumented immigrants more often work 
     in unsafe working conditions?
       To what extent do undocumented immigrants utilize 
     government safety-net programs?
       What economic contributions do undocumented immigrants make 
     to the local economy?

                              Key Findings

             1. Labor force participation and unemployment

       Undocumented immigrants seek work at extremely high rates 
     (91%), and most do not experience unemployment at rates that 
     are significantly different than the Chicago metro area 
     average. However, undocumented Latin-American women 
     experience unemployment rates that approach 20%, five times 
     as high as the average unemployment rate for the remainder of 
     the undocumented workforce. Factors that significantly 
     increase the likelihood of unemployment include:
       the combined effect of undocumented status, being female, 
     and being of Latin-American origin;
       the lack of dependent care; and
       obtaining work through temporary staffing agencies.

                                2. Wages

       Most undocumented immigrants are employed in low-wage 
     service and laborer occupations. Approximately, 30% of 
     undocumented immigrants work in restaurant-related, hand-
     packing and assembly, and janitorial and cleaning jobs. The 
     average (median) hourly wage earned by undocumented workers 
     is $7.00.
       All else being equal, working without legal status, in 
     combination with the effects of national origin and gender, 
     induces significant wage penalties for Latin Americans:
       Undocumented Latin-American men and women experience 
     statistically significant wage penalties--22% and 36%--
     respectively-after controlling for length of U.S. work 
     experience, education, English proficiency, and occupation.
       Eastern-European women experience wage penalties as a 
     result of their national origin and gender, but they do not 
     experience penalties associated with their legal status.
       Eastern-European men, documented Latin-American men, and 
     immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe do 
     not experience wage penalties associated with their national 
     origin, gender, or legal status.
       Factors including English proficiency, unionization, and 
     obtaining employment in higher-paying occupations help 
     undocumented Latin Americans earn higher wages. Educational 
     attainment, however, does not have significant positive wage 
     effects for undocumented Latin Americans. Importantly,

[[Page E157]]

     attaining additional levels of education, having English 
     proficiency, and accumulating additional years of U.S. 
     residency do not neutralize the negative wage effect of 
     working without legal status.
       All else being equal, securing work in higher-wage 
     occupational categories induces significant wage advantages 
     to undocumented workers and neutralizes the negative wage 
     effect of working without legal status. However, undocumented 
     status limits Latin Americans' access to higher-wage white-
     collar jobs.

                         3. Working conditions

       Undocumented immigrants report working in unsafe conditions 
     at considerably higher rates relative to immigrants with 
     legal status. Moreover, immigrants without legal status also 
     report alleged wage and hour violations at considerably 
     higher rates relative to documented workers.
       Lack of access to health insurance is a significant problem 
     for undocumented workers. Only 25 percent of undocumented 
     workers currently employed are covered by health insurance. 
     The most commonly reported reason for not having health 
     insurance among immigrants who are currently employed is that 
     their employer did not offer health insurance or the 
     employer-sponsored plan was too expensive to access.

        4. Use of government benefits and economic contributions

       The vast majority of undocumented immigrants reported that 
     they, and adults in their household, do not receive benefits 
     under government safety-net programs, despite their low 
     earnings. Benefit utilization is comparably low among 
     immigrants with legal status.
       The consumer expenditures of undocumented immigrants in the 
     Chicago metro area generate more than 31,000 jobs in the 
     local economy and add $5.45 billion annually to the gross 
     regional product. While exact tax contributions were not 
     calculated, the survey data indicates that approximately 70 
     percent of undocumented workers pay taxes.
       The results of this study strongly suggest that attaining 
     legal status would improve the wages and working conditions 
     of undocumented immigrants. Estimating the size of any wage 
     increase and subsequent wage effects as a result of any 
     changes to federal immigration policy, such as legalization 
     or guest-worker programs, is beyond the scope of this study.
       The survey was carried out during the 3rd quarter 2001 
     through 38 community-based organizations, community colleges, 
     social service providers, and churches. This study was made 
     possible by a grant from the Woods Fund of Chicago.


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