CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate and under consideration by the U.S. House would add nearly 1,300 jobs in West Virginia and boost the state's economic output by $107 million in 2014, according to a report released by the White House Thursday.
The bill would raise the number of visas available for high-skilled workers and establish a new visa program for low-skilled workers like farm workers. It also would create a 13-year path to citizenship, with numerous caveats, for undocumented immigrants currently in the country.
Further, it provides for 20,000 additional border agents, 700 miles of fence along the Mexico border and $3.2 billion in technology upgrades for border security.
West Virginia has a very low immigrant population, as only 1.7 percent of West Virginia's workforce is foreign-born, which is the fourth-lowest rate of any state in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the White House analysis predicts substantial effects for the state.
The report estimates that had the Senate bill been in place in 2010, it would have increased the state and local taxes paid by immigrants in West Virginia by $1 million.
The report comes from an analysis by Regional Economic Models Inc. REMI estimates that the expansion of high-skilled H-1B visas would create more than 700 jobs in West Virginia in 2014.
It estimates that expanding low-skilled visas would create about 300 jobs in the state in 2014, and enrolling undocumented immigrants in a pathway to legal status program would create an additional 300 jobs.
Underlying data was not made available and a White House official was vague when asked how analysts arrived at the numbers.
"The precision reflects the model that they used and the results that they published and we put that together with other additional analysis that was done," said Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary at the White House.
The report stresses the economic benefits provided by immigration reform.