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Economists and Experts Agree: Immigration Has Direct Budgetary Impact; Would Be a Fiscal Boon; and Reconciliation is Right Vehicle to Deliver a Legislative Breakthrough

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Washington, DC – News broke yesterday that the Senate parliamentarian will hear arguments this Friday on the immigration provisions in the budget agreement. In advance, leading economists and experts are making it clear that the immigration provisions provide a direct economic impact; would offer a fiscal and economic boon; and highlighting why reconciliation is an appropriate legislative vehicle to deliver long overdue progress. Among the key voices:

  • New Letter from 50+ Economists – “Economists urge Democratic leaders to pass immigration revamp in budget reconciliation bill”: The letter states, “A pathway to citizenship is a key component of a just, equitable, and robust recovery; and, as aforementioned, granting a pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans will bring expansive economic benefits to communities across the country –while having a significant impact on the federal budget — not only for the individuals directly affected, but for the larger systems — families, and the workforce — that they comprise.” As CNN reported, “The more than 50 economists, including former President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser Jason Furman, cited research and studies underscoring their analysis that immigration revisions would increase wages and productivity across the US economy, including creating jobs and lifting families out of poverty.”
  • Marshall Fitz, managing director of immigration at the Emerson Collective, in recent Roll Call op-ed: “Immigration reform is a perfect fit for budget reconciliation: “Opposition to using reconciliation also runs into a wall created by the Senate’s own precedents. Several of the senators currently claiming this effort is impermissible explicitly supported an expansion of green cards in 2005 as part of a budget reconciliation bill … During Senate debate on the 2005 reconciliation bill, Sen. Byrd (yes, the rule’s namesake) offered an amendment to strike those provisions. Notably, he did not challenge the green card provisions on Byrd rule grounds that the budgetary impact was ‘merely incidental’, a procedural option he surely would have exercised if he thought it was available.”
  • Center for American Progress economic analysis, “A Pathway to Citizenship and Economic Growth Through Budget Reconciliation: The recent study found that the citizenship provisions in the budget package would, over a period of 10 years, create over 400,000 new jobs; raise wages for all – a 31% increase in wages over 10 years for undocumented immigrants and a rise in wages for $600 for all other workers; and boost GDP by a cumulative total of $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
  • Kevin Kayes, former assistant Senate parliamentarian: “Based on previous legislative history regarding immigration provisions in reconciliation and the attributes of the particular proposals under consideration, we believe there is a pathway to get some of this done through reconciliation and therefore, the question is not whether, but rather how much can be done. That said, because legislative language hasn’t been finalized, it is impossible to generalize or know in advance what would meet the requirements of the Byrd Rule because the analysis is based on reviewing actual legislative text that has been scored by CBO.”
  • Kerri Talbot, Deputy Director of the Immigration Hub: “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there is no question that a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants meets the litmus test to pass via reconciliation. There is both an economic and moral imperative to allow the millions of individuals who are part of America’s essential workforce to continue to contribute to our recovery. This isn’t controversial – this is about moving forward a solution with a large budgetary impact that has overwhelming bipartisan public support.” The Immigration Hub also noted, “A path to citizenship for workers should qualify for a budget bill because immigration has an important budgetary impact. In the short term, immigration reform has a budget impact of over $100 billion. While long-term economic impacts may not be considered in the analysis of whether a proposal is included in the package from a parliamentary perspective, immigration has long-term economic benefits for U.S. workers and the country as a whole and is critical for the country’s economic growth.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

This should be a no-brainer. 

It is in the interests of America to legalize millions of hard-working immigrants who will deliver a strong economic stimulus by creating jobs, expanding the tax base and pumping money into the social security trust fund. There is a clear precedent for including immigration provisions in a reconciliation package. Doing so will provide a direct and positive budgetary and fiscal impact that would move America a big step closer to a more just and equitable economy for all. 

But this is more than just an issue of dollars and cents. It’s about the type of America we aspire to be. Expanding our democracy to deliver green cards and eventual citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers is not just the smart thing to do, but also the right thing to do. Millions of American families are hoping to be able to work without fear of deportation or having their families broken up. 

Given the facts, it is hard to believe any institutional actor in the legislative process would deny the inclusion of citizenship for immigrant workers and families. Just as important, inclusion reflects where the American people are and what they want: to have Congress finally enact citizenship for millions of individuals who are already deeply American in fact, if not yet by law.