Many of the naysayers and immigration reform pessimists point to the current economic crisis as the nail in the coffin for any reform effort. With unemployment at a record high, there is a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of legalizing the millions of workers currently toiling in the shadows of our economy. However, the truth is that the continuation of heavy-handed enforcement-only policies that have served to “look tough” on immigration have helped to depress wages across the board.
This morning the Center for American Progress, in partnership with the Immigration Policy Center, is releasing a groundbreaking study that finds comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to legalization would “raise the wage floor” for American workers across the board – and would bring $1.5 trillion dollars in GDP over 10 years.
…we estimate that comprehensive immigration reform would yield at least $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years. This is a compelling economic reason to move away from the current “vicious cycle” where enforcement-only policies perpetuate unauthorized migration and exert downward pressure on already low wages, and toward a “virtuous cycle” of worker empowerment in which legal status and labor rights exert upward pressure on wages.
The report compares three different scenarios for immigration policy: 1) comprehensive reform with a pathway to legalization, 2) a temporary guest worker program with no chance for legalization and 3) mass deportation. The findings speak for themselves:
Legalizing the nation’s unauthorized workers and putting new legal limits on immigration that rise and fall with U.S. labor demand would help lay the foundation for robust, just, and widespread economic growth.
Creating a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented would keep families together. It would stop the separation of children from parents. It would stop the abuse and exploitation of undocumented workers. It would bring people out of the shadows to leave without fear. And it makes economic sense.
In short, immigration reform is not only the right thing to do, it is the the necessary thing to do – for our families and for our economic future.