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60 Economists to Biden Administration: Include Undocumented Workers in COVID Economic Package

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A new letter signed by 60 economists calls on the Biden administration to include a path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers in the economic and COVID-19 recovery package being crafted now and expected to be considered in the Spring.

The impressive array of economists write: 

We are writing today to encourage you to consider the economic, fiscal, and public policy rationales behind including in the president’s forthcoming economic recovery and jobs plan a provision that offers a pathway to citizenship to undocumented individuals — particularly those working in jobs deemed essential to the country’s critical infrastructure during this pandemic and their families, as well as Dreamers and people with Temporary Protected Status. Such a policy would increase wages and productivity throughout the U.S. economy, create jobs, generate additional tax revenue, strengthen worker protections for immigrant and native workers alike, and lift many families out of poverty…

The letter notes that legalization would “increase the average wages of all Americans …  federal, state, and local tax revenue and …. both federal and state gross domestic product (GDP). The policy would also strengthen the finances of both Social Security and Medicare.”

The new economists’ letter comes as leading Democrats on Capitol Hill are coalescing around the idea of pursuing citizenship to encompass 11 million undocumented workers while simultaneously moving forward on delivering for as many people as possible as quickly as possible on multiple legislative vehicles.  

As Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) told Politico, “My motto is, get something done … Whatever we do, we can’t walk away empty-handed.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice, 

Undocumented immigrants are our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers. Immigrants have always been essential, but their contributions and sacrifices have never been more clearly recognized or sorely needed than during this past year. As the new economists’ letter makes clear, delivering citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. 

A multi-racial majority voted out President Trump and his unrelenting cruelty towards, and denigration of, immigrants. It’s past time to formally recognize what is already a reality: that immigrants are part of the American community, part of the American workforce, and part of our nationwide response to the economic and public health consequences of COVID-19. The American public strongly backs the idea of full legal status and citizenship for immigrants in poll after poll. It should not be difficult or controversial for Congress to translate this broad national support into a breakthrough achievement.

The full version of the new letter from 60 economists is available here and we excerpt additional sections below: 

There are today an estimated 10.4 million undocumented immigrants in the country, 5 million of whom are working in essential occupations and industries. Through their work they are keeping Americans healthy, safe, and provided for in the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic—and they are doing so at great personal risk to themselves and their families. Offering them the chance to earn citizenship will help to ensure that the economic recovery reaches all corners of society, including those that have disproportionately been on the frontlines of the pandemic and yet left out of prior relief bills, and establishes a more stable and equitable foundation on which future economic success can be built.”

…Creating a path to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans pays dividends not only for them and their families, but for our broader communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has made plain how our public health and economic fates are inextricably tied together, and how harmful shortcomings in one part of our economy affect us all. The inverse is also true: conferring citizenship will bring expansive benefits to communities across the country, not only for the individuals directly affected, but for the larger systems—families, and the workforce—that they comprise. We hope you will consider including this as a sensible and long overdue policy intervention that can help to ensure that the country’s economic recovery is as big and equitable as it needs to be to meet the challenges we face.