Anti-immigrant forces are hoping the bad economy gives them ammo to scuttle the common-sense legalization of 10-15 million undocumented workers in this country. The thinking goes, since so many Americans have no jobs, there would be little appetite to grant "illegals" the right to stay and work.
That may have some rhetorical power, even if few Americans are lining up to work in slaughterhouses or as day laborers. But fact is, normalizing their status would be a huge boost to the economy.
Even during the ongoing recession, immigration reform legislation that legalizes undocumented immigrants would boost the American economy, according to a new study out of UCLA.
The report said that legalization, along with a program that allows for future immigration based on the labor market, would create jobs, increase wages and generate more tax revenue. Comprehensive immigration reform would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years, according to the report.
"But wait!" scream the critics, "That report was authored by brown people at the UCLA Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies!" So let's look to a decidedly non-brown source, the Libertarian CATO Institute:
This study finds that increased enforcement and reduced low-skilled immigration have a significant negative impact on the income of U.S. households. Modest savings in public expenditures would be more than offset by losses in economic output and job opportunities for more skilled American workers. A policy that reduces the number of low-skilled immigrant workers by 28.6 percent compared to projected levels would reduce U.S. household welfare by about 0.5 percent, or $80 billion.
In contrast, legalization of low-skilled immigrant workers would yield significant income gains for American workers and households. Legalization would eliminate smugglers' fees and other costs faced by illegal immigrants. It would also allow immigrants to have higher productivity and create more openings for Americans in higherskilled occupations. The positive impact for U.S. households of legalization under an optimal visa tax would be 1.27 percent of GDP or $180 billion.
That's an even more optimistic outlook than the UCLA study, adding $1.8 trillion to the GDP over 10 years.
That's a lot of new jobs.
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