Immigrants Ancille Mukazayire (left) of Rwanda and Shookria Abid of Afghanistan learn how to sew in a free program run by Women United Around the World in this 2016 BDN file photo. A new report released Friday found that foreign-born residents contributed $1.2 billion to Greater Portland's gross domestic product in 2016. Credit: File

Foreign-born residents in Greater Portland contributed $1.2 billion to the area’s gross domestic product in 2016, according to a new study released Friday.

The report comes from the bipartisan organization New American Economy, which supports both increased opportunities for immigrants to enter the U.S. workforce and strengthened international borders.

The study found that foreign-born residents in Greater Portland paid just less than $200 million in taxes — $133 million in federal, and $62 million in state and local taxes — during the year in question, and held more than $521 million in spending power.

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The report was compiled in partnership with the city of Portland’s Office of Economic Opportunity and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“In Portland, there is cross-sector consensus that the retention and attraction of diverse immigrant talent is vital to sustain the region’s growth,” said Julia Trujillo Luengo, director of the city’s Office of Economic Opportunity, in a statement.

The New American Economy study reported that immigrants made up three quarters of Portland’s population growth between 2011 and 2016, are more likely to have college degrees than their U.S.-born neighbors and carry an outsized share of the jobs in the area’s manufacturing and health care fields.

“There’s a new energy in the business sector as more and more entrepreneurs — both new to the country and new to the market — continue to start businesses and contribute to our growing economy,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Quincy Hentzel in a statement.

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The report comes out just days after Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and Maine Gov. Paul LePage traded barbs in the media over the mayor’s proposal for a referendum that could allow some noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The proposal stalled before the City Council earlier this month and won’t reach a citywide ballot until 2019, at the earliest.

Friday’s report found that 55.6 percent of foreign-born residents in Greater Portland in 2016 were naturalized U.S. citizens.

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Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.