San Diego And The Undocumented Worker Problem


If there were one city in the U.S. with the closest ties to Mexico, it would likely be San Diego. Not only is the city home to gorgeous beaches and towering palm trees, its southern edge sits on the American-Mexican border, specifically bordering Tijuana. Unfortunately, that could be a problem if President Trump decides to enact his pledge to deport America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“San Diego could very well be ground zero. From construction to tourism to hospitality, industry and labor in the city is fueled in large measure by [undocumented immigrants],” Patricia Kirk writes in a Forbes article. “San Diego’s economy would undoubtedly suffer a massive, sudden blow.”

Studies show that expelling illegal immigrants would have a wide-reaching impact on the entire U.S. economy. According to the Center for American Progress, which did a study on this very issue, removing undocumented immigrants would reduce the nation’s GDP by an estimated 1.4 percent, and over ten years, would reduce the cumulative GDP by $4.7 trillion. And a border city like San Diego would experience the largest decline in GDP.

Arizona offers a compelling case study demonstrating what could happen in San Diego. When the state passed the Legal Workforce Act in 2007, around 40 percent of the state’s unauthorized workers left, according to a Pew Study, which resulted in a reduction of Arizona’s annual GDP by 2 percent on average between 2008 and 2015.

As for Randy Belcher-Torres, a legislative chair for the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he sees undocumented workers as a help to America’s economy. “Study after study has quantified the positive economic impact these immigrants have had on our communities,” he told Forbes. “U.S. corporations, businesses and consumers have all profited significantly from illegal employers, undocumented workers and illegal immigrants.”

This very reason is why UC San Diego offers an Undocumented Student Services Center, which is “committed to serving our undocumented students and students from mixed-status families through a holistic approach that encompasses professional guidance, academic support, legal services, counseling and psychological services and other forms of individualized support.”


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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