Delaware Public Media

Delaware United analyzes economic impact of state's undocumented residents

Jul 6, 2017

Delaware hasn’t been declared a sanctuary state – but advocacy group Delaware United is trying to make an economic case that it should be.

In an effort to convince Gov. John Carney to protect First State undocumented immigrants, local advocacy group Delaware United analyzed their economic impact.


President Donald Trump has threatened to pull certain federal funding from states that declare themselves as so-called "sanctuary states." Some states like Maryland have a lot on the line – receiving around $34 million through five federal grants related to law enforcement that Trump has threatened to pull.


But that’s not the case in Delaware.


“We literally have the least amount of funding to lose," said Dustyn Thompson, Outreach Coordinator for Delaware United. Of all the states in the country, Delaware receives the least amount of federal funding.

For the five grants at risk? Delaware received around $5 million through them in 2016. Thompson says that figure pales in comparison to the economic impact undocumented immigrants have in the First State.

Dustyn Thompson with Delaware United (left) spoke on a panel recently about Delaware's efforts to protect undocumented immigrants.
Credit Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media

“Last year we stood to lose, if they just disappeared, if we removed the undocumented population out of the workforce – we would lose 949 million in economic activity in one year," Thompson said.


The Migration Policy Institute estimated that from 2010 to 2014, there were around 23,000 undocumented immigrants residing in Delaware. And according to the Immigration Policy Center, they bring in around $12 million in state and local taxes each year.


Delaware United presented their findings to the governor’s policy director earlier this year, and are awaiting an in-person meeting with Carney. For now, they're working with other groups like the ACLU of Delaware and Network Delaware to create a statewide "safe communities" policy.   Here's a breakdown of federal funding Delaware received for five programs mentioned above: 

Edward Byrne Memorial State And Local Law Enforcement Assistance

2005 - $2,060,201

2011 - $1.2 million

2012 – $1.6 million

2014 – $1.02 million

2015 - $896,805

U.S. Economic Development Administration grants

2015 - $100,000

2017 - $0

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program

2016 - $88,632

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants

2016 – $2 million

Community Development Block Grant program

2016 - $2,063,710