A new study by the BPDA tries to calculate the costs of proposed federal immigration rules that would bar anybody who ever applies for any taxpayer-funded programs - including early-childhood nutrition programs and state-subsidized health insurance - and concludes Boston could lose a significant part of its workforce and risk increases in communicable diseases as immigrants drop out of health-care programs to try to stay here.
The BPDA first calculated there are roughly 19,400 Boston residents who could be affected by the proposed changes and looked at the economic impacts:
Loss of Workers
Boston employers could lose approximately 12,000 workers if affected immigrants lose employment authorization, are detained and deported, including workers who are Boston residents and those who commute into jobs in the city. These workers support the jobs of an additional 5,600 workers.
Loss of Consumer Demand
The Boston economy would also lose the purchasing power of the 11,800 affected Boston residents who are not currently employed or who work outside of Boston.
Loss of Income for the City as a Whole
The affected immigrants who live in Boston or commute into Boston contribute $500 million annually to the income of Boston residents through direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts.
Loss of Talent
Of the 19,400 Boston residents who would possibly fall out of status and face deportation, 3,973 are college or university students, and another 1,822 are college-educated workers.
But beyond that, immigrants dropping out of state-funded or subsidized nutrition and health-care programs would leave Boston at greater risk of treatable and communicable disease, because it would mean more people not receiving adequate nutrition, vaccinations or early detection of disease. People who don't get enough to eat are more likely to get sick, the BPDA notes.
[D]isenrollment from immunization services (influenza, mumps, rubella, etc.) aswell as other preventive services against communicable diseases (diphtheria, cholera, HIV, etc.)will have incalculable implications to the local economy as well as potentially severe health consequences for both those disenrolling and the population at large. Loss of productivity and/or missed work due to health issues may also result in lost earnings.
For people who don't care about sick immigrants - and somehow think they don't come down with illnesses that can spread to the native-born - the report says both the city and local hospitals would see costs go up, because hospitals are still required to provide medical care to people sick enough to show up at an emergency room.
Based on preliminary analysis, we estimate that the economic burden to the City of Boston could between $14 and $57 million per year (assuming 20% to 80% disenrollment). ...
[D]isenrollment from programs that provide nutrition assistance (i.e. SNAP) may prove burdensome to the local economy because of increased health expenditures associated with food insecurity. Implicit in this thesis is the relationship between food insecurity and adverse health conditions, identifiable in empirical food security research literature published in peer-reviewed academic journals and reports.