New Report Shows Immigrants Contribute $1.4 Billion To Champaign County Economy
Christopher Di Franco helped produce a report on the contributions of immigrants in Champaign County that the University YMCA’s New American Welcome Center and other organizations unveiled at a community meeting in Champaign.
The urban planner and community organizer said the Gateways for Growth Community Data Report contradicts some common narratives surrounding immigration.
The report shows that immigrants in Champaign County contributed more than $1.4 billion to the area's economy in 2016, and paid more than $57 million in state and local taxes.
Di Franco said the report's findings also indicate that non-college student immigrants in Champaign County are often married, employed and highly educated.
“You can’t reconcile the narrative of the immigrant as a criminal and an invader and the reality that you witness which is the immigrant as a contributor and a good neighbor," said Di Franco.
The data analyst said not counting college students, one third of the world’s nations are represented in Champaign County. He said nearly 24,000 non-college student immigrants in Champaign County come from 76 countries.
“For that many countries to be represented here in the middle of central Illinois, that’s incredible to me," said Di Franco.
According to the report, immigrants in Champaign County come from a variety of countries including India, Germany, Colombia and the Philippines among others.
He said Champaign County is made economically and socially stronger by the diversity and contributions that immigrants bring to the community.
Di Franco said cities around the United States should take steps to be more welcoming to immigrants--and that Champaign's inclusivity can serve as inspiration.
You can read the full report below.