Immigration Reform is Part of the Economic Recovery We Need
President Obama's proposed budget, unveiled yesterday, projects that the deficit will peak at nearly $1.6 trillion this year and eventually decline but remain at "troublesome levels over the remainder of the decade." The deficit is expected to grow due to fast-rising costs of health care and retirement programs. As reported by New York Times:
Unless miraculous growth... creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors.
These projections are not only a good reminder of the urgent need for health care reform but also of how immigration reform would help generate part of the economic growth we need. While immigration reform would benefit immigrants themselves, the fact that it would strengthen the economy and the nation at large is too often left out of the equation. So here's the reality check:
Immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for the undocumented would generate an increase in U.S. GDP of at least 0.84 percent; summed over 10 years, this amounts to a cumulative $1.5 trillion in additional GDP. And it would also improve wages and labor standards for both native-born and foreign born workers by empowering all workers to have full labor rights.
Based on the results from the 1986 legalization program, which was implemented during an economic recession characterized by high unemployment, immigration reform would allow immigrants to strengthen our economy by paying more in taxes, earning higher wages, buying homes, increasing consumer purchasing power, and starting businesses.