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New Studies Show Economic Benefit of Smart Immigration Reform

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Reform Will Help Middle Class and Strengthen the Economy for All Workers

Several new research studies add fresh data to the long trail of evidence that immigration reform benefits the U.S. economy and the American taxpayer.

The Drum Major Institute (DMI), a think tank devoted to strengthening the American middle class, published their assessment this week that comprehensive immigration reform “will boost our nation’s economy and strengthen and expand its middle class.”  In their analysis of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP) legislation introduced recently in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and other members of Congress, DMI concludes that the legislation “sets a new standard for American immigration policy,” and “makes the grade for current and aspiring middle-class Americans.”  On its “pro-middle class immigration test,” DMI gives the bill an “A” for bolstering the contributions immigrants make to the U.S. economy and an “A-” for its potential to end the exploitation of undocumented immigrants that threatens the wages and working conditions of America’s aspiring middle class.”

An additional study, from Manuel Pastor of the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, examined the potential economic effects of comprehensive reform on the state of California.  The study finds that “newly legalized immigrants earned higher wages, spent more consumer dollars, paid more taxes and helped create jobs,” leading to an economic boon of $16 billion to the state.  “People keep using our economic condition as an excuse to not do comprehensive immigration reform,” said Pastor.  “It’s just the opposite: What we need to do to right our economy and move forward is create a path to legalization.”  As California battles severe budget shortfalls, legislators should take note that the study showed that reform would increase the “state and local tax base by about $350 million in the short run.”

The new studies come on the heels of a report released last week from the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center that demonstrated that immigration reform would boost the overall economy, including aiding job creation and wage increases for American workers.  Among its findings, Raising the Floor for American Workers concluded that U.S. GDP would rise by $1.5 trillion over 10 years if Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform, that granting legal status to undocumented immigrants and creating flexible legal limits on future immigration flows would also raise the “wage floor” for all American workers, and that enacting such legislation would generate enough consumer-spending to support 750,000-900,000 jobs.  The new studies are the latest evidence that immigration reform would benefit taxpayers and the overall economy and are consistent with past analysis.  For example, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill estimated that, even accounting for services to the newly legalized, passing reform legislation would generate a net gain of $25 billion over ten years, while enforcement-only and enforcement without reform policy alternatives would decrease revenues.

“The evidence is consistent and compelling – comprehensive immigration reform will be a boon to the economy,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “Immigration reform will lift wages, increase revenues, and help honest employers create jobs.  As these new studies show, the economic benefits of immigration reform would extend broadly to include native born workers and other middle class Americans.”

“When you take a cold, hard look at the facts and remove the blinders of Beltway conventional wisdom, passing immigration reform becomes something to run to not from. The American people consistently support comprehensive immigration reform and independent studies consistently uphold the economic benefits of doing so.  We can’t build a sound economy poised for long-term growth on the foundation of a broken immigration system and we can’t keep passing the buck on enacting smart and sensible reform.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.