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Report Extols Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

Comprehensive immigration reform that creates a pathway to legalization would help American workers and the U.S. economy.

By David Adams | PODER Magazine
Monica Almeida | The New York Times

Legalizing undocumented workers via comprehensive immigration reform would yield $1.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP over a ten year period, generate billions in additional tax revenue and consumer spending, as well as create hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a groundbreaking new study by Dr. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda from the University of California.

The report, Raising the Floor for American Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, co-released by the Immigration Policy Center and Center for American Progress, finds that legalization of undocumented migrants historically tends to raise the wages of all workers, and could serve as a vital tool to help revitalize the nation’s economy.

“We need to reinforce the notion how immigration reform is critically important to the nation’s economic future,” said Hinajosa-Ojeda, founding director of the North American Integration and Development Center at UCLA in Los Angeles.

The report comes on the eve of a major debate brewing in Congress over comprehensive immigration reform expected to be presented soon by the Obama administration. But many advocates of legalization are skeptical that significant immigration reform can pass in the current economic climate with more than one in ten people out of work. Many conservatives argue that immigration policy needs to be tightened rather than relaxed, in order to protect jobs. Deporting foreign migrants who entered the country illegally would potentially open up existing jobs to the unemployed Americans, they argue.

But a string of recent reports contradict this perception, including the UCLA study.

“The results of this report are frankly startling,” said Angela Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress. Comprehensive immigration reform that creates a path to legalization would have an “overall positive ripple effect” throughout the whole economy,” she added. An alternative policy of deporting undocumented allies would cause a $2.5 trillion drain over 10 years, she noted.

The report is based on historical data over the last two decades following implementation of the most recent major immigration overhaul by Congress in 1986, Hinajosa-Ojeda said. It found that wages increased 15-20% over that time. Legalizing undocumented workers allows them to increase their productivity by giving them greater confidence to fully exploit their skills in the workplace, Hinajosa-Ojeda said. By reducing the pool of cheap, easily exploited, undocumented labor, legalization also pushed up wages nationally.

“We think these are solid numbers that have to be a wake up call to folks on Capitol Hill as the debate begins,” Hinajosa-Ojeda said.

Despite the current down economy, analysts point out that previous legislation in the 1980s was also passed in the midst of hard times. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 led to the legalization of 2.7 million “illegal” workers, but did not lead to greater unemployment. Wages also rose 15-20% in the following two decades, the study found. Data also suggests that a policy of mass deportation of migrants in the 1930s worsened the economic crisis.

The latest report showed “it’s not simply hypothetical” to argue in favor of the economic benefits of immigration reform, said Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress. “We have prior experience from just a couple of decades ago. We did it once, we can do it again.” The data is hard to argue against said Daniel Griswold, Director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the conservative Cato Institute.

Cracking down on immigration was costly and has not worked, he noted. “We’ve tried enforcement and it only has failed,” he said.

But immigration reform had to look beyond legalization, he argued, and needs to address future migrant flows. One option might be a temporary worker program, which has been used in the past. “Otherwise there is no provision to meet future workforce needs.”

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Beast
2010-01-07 18:54:46

Is this shocking that a Latino professor would make such a claim?

Joe
2010-01-07 19:20:57

Do you think he just made the facts up?? Get real.

Carl McGinnis
2010-01-07 19:22:09

Immigration is so messed up they can't tell who is legal and who is not. I can not seem to get an answer and I went to the top.But no one will go talk to this guy. DHS is affraid the truth will come out.This post comes from Carl McGinnis, a citizen of the United States, who has seen the horrors of immigrant detention after ICE detained his legal immigrant friend, Noureddine Feddane. He tells us that it is not just about undocumented immigrants but even people who follow the rules get burned in our archaic and inhumane immigration system]. I am a citizen of the United States and I have a friend that is from Paris, France here on a student visa with a double Masters Degree and working on his PhD in International Finance. Noureddine Feddane has been here since 2005. His visa is valid until March of 2010, his passport is valid until 2014, and his I-20 is current. He is not what people call an 'illegal immigrant.' In 2007, he fell in love and in Dec. 2008 married a U.S. citizen that just happens to be addicted to prescription medications. He knew nothing about this. But he was arrested due to her mistakes. The reality is that his American wife was taking advantage of him and when his money was gone so was she. Janet Napolitano just wants to deport him rather than correct the problem, and make the American accountable. This is wrong. We should have some sort of protection built into the system. Judge Rex Ford would not listen to reason without the wife in court and all witnesses were not given time to testify. This is not what I thought American Justice was all about. I was wrong. It is all a game our Government plays with our lives. Noureddine was placed in detention and scheduled for deportation. He has been in the detention center in Pompano Beach Florida for 5 months now. This couple has lost all there savings on lawyers, she lost her job, and they are in the process of losing their home. All this was caused because ICE has the wrong person in jail. I have written many letters to Janet Napolitano, Senator Bill Nelson, Representative Ginny Brown-Waite and even President Obama. But no one will listen. What is illegal in this case is the way DHS is treating this guy, who is 51 and has never had a traffic violation. While in the detention center, He has been beaten by another inmate and suffered cracked ribs and bruised body, denied him food and proper medical treatment. Noureddine is diabetic and they will not give him the proper food or medical attention. The phone system is very poor and hardly works. I suspect that they plan it that way so the detainees cannot contact their lawyers and family. I fear he will be next on the long list of persons that have died while in detention. I beg for someone to go and listen to his story. They do not allow any form of media in because they don’t want anyone to know what they are doing. Until you go to one of these detention centers and see with your own eyes, you will not believe what America is doing. I was shocked, on my first visit and after almost 6 months of seeing what happens and how they have to live, I am still in shock. It is all about the money. My friend has never cost America anything until they locked him up. He is in a private prison owned by a company called GEO based near Miami, Florida. They are paid very well by our tax dollars, but the treatment is unbelievable. I wonder how many politicians have stock in this company. They are doing quite well even in a bad economy. Six months ago I had no idea that we treated immigrants in this way, especially when they are here legally and have done nothing wrong. I knew nothing about ICE and how they operate illegally. I was under the impression that DHS was here only to protect us from terrorists. And I had no idea of the millions of our tax dollars were being wasted to imprison people that could be out of detention and have their family support them until a decision is made in immigration court. I do not understand why we have to pay our hard earned tax dollars to house and feed persons that are not dangerous. When they have to lock up a man who has done nothing wrong, make him spend thousands in fees, ICE is giving way too much importance to them selves. How can we turn such educated people away simply to boost the ego of ICE officers and add another number to the Janet Napolitano deportation list, so that the Obama Administration can look like it is doing its job of 'cracking down on criminals?' Something has to change soon. I feel it is my duty as an American to let as many people as possible know the truth. I visit the detention center every Saturday and spend the rest of the week writing letters. This New Year, lets do something worthwhile. Let’s go back to protecting the country rather than making up stories to justify the expansion of a national security complex. Let’s end businesses profiting from immigrant detention and restore our image as a nation of immigrants.

Darshan Patel
2010-01-07 22:15:07

His studies are about economics times & rules of economic rise and fall... It has nothing to do with his being Spanish. I totally agree with the professor. I am from India and I guess the rise of countries like India and China is because of big rise in population. More people demand more thus drive economic growth..... Despite the current down economy, analysts point out that previous legislation in the 1980s was also passed in the midst of hard times. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 led to the legalization of 2.7 million “illegal” workers, but did not lead to greater unemployment. Wages also rose 15-20% in the following two decades, the study found. Data also suggests that a policy of mass deportation of migrants in the 1930s worsened the economic crisis.

a concerned american
2010-01-08 18:19:40

Hi All, America is a country of immigrants. People who came here have always been very enterprising and determined to make a great name for this country and for themselves and surely thenceforth this country has become the greatest on earth. All people who came here sacrificed their family and friends whom they left behind to achieve their dream in this land of opportunity. No wonder this country has thence become the best and greatest in the world. To discourage immigrants, who are competing in a global economy is not only detrimental to the continued greatness and prosperity of this country, but also harmful to all Americans and to our country by allowing us to rest on the laurels of our predecessors and expecting to be landed jobs in our lap without having to compete openly in this global village. It is just plain commonsense that such an attitude is neither dignified nor patriotic and will only not only make us weaker as people and as a country but would also well result in losng our global leadership position and our prosperity. The only fair reason for anyone complaining should be if someone is not working as hard or as good but getting paid better and if that were to be happening here this country will begin in a downward spiral toward losing its prosperity and its global leadersip position. The right thing for all Americans is to stop resting on the laurels of our predecessors and instead continue to show the same zeal and hard work that our forefathers displayed thus making this country the greatest. Indeed most Americans understand this and that is what continues to keep our country most prosperous. However some of us who like to just have what we are used to or what we want without wanting to openly compete in this global economy is just harming ourselves. It is neither right nor fair thinking but only harmful both in short term and the long term. Henceforth studies conducted by experts and universities recently continue to show that legalizing the immigrants, who are not criminals or drug traffickers is in the best interest of our country's economy and prosperity I thus think that passing of the comprehensive immigration reform is in the best interest of Americans and our country. It will only continue to make our country prosperous and great. The only people who are harmful to our country are criminals/drug traffickers and they are the ones we should get rid of. May God give us the courage and strength to continue to compete openly in this gobal village without fearing people who are better contributors than us and thus continue to keep this country the most prosperous and the most blessed nation on earth. Amen

a concerned american
2010-01-08 18:26:18

I also agree with the following comment from Darshan Patel: His studies are about economics times & rules of economic rise and fall... It has nothing to do with his being Spanish. I totally agree with the professor. I am from India and I guess the rise of countries like India and China is because of big rise in population. More people demand more thus drive economic growth..... Despite the current down economy, analysts point out that previous legislation in the 1980s was also passed in the midst of hard times. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 led to the legalization of 2.7 million “illegal” workers, but did not lead to greater unemployment. Wages also rose 15-20% in the following two decades, the study found. Data also suggests that a policy of mass deportation of migrants in the 1930s worsened the economic crisis.

SargentRobin
2011-04-04 14:18:10

I think that to get the mortgage loans from banks you should present a good reason. However, once I've received a sba loan, just because I wanted to buy a building.

Jodie20Mcintosh
2011-10-09 00:09:14

Buildings are not very cheap and not every person can buy it. However, home loans are created to help people in such situations.

tislostecat
2011-10-28 17:05:52

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