Friday, March 22, 2013
The movement toward comprehensive immigration reform has accelerated significantly in recent months. A bipartisan “Gang of 8” in the Senate—a group of four Democratic senators and four Republican senators—released a framework for immigration reform on January 28, 2013, and the next day President Barack Obama gave a speech launching White House efforts to push for immigration reform. Both proposals contained strong language regarding the need to provide legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, as well as a road map to full citizenship.Some lawmakers, however, do not want to extend legal status—let alone citizenship—to the unauthorized. Others have expressed interest in stopping just short of providing full citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, calling instead for a so-called middle-ground option—to leave undocumented immigrants in a permanent subcitizen status.
This new Center for American Progress report “The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants” explains that legal status and a road map to citizenship for the unauthorized will bring about significant economic gains in terms of growth, earnings, tax revenues, and jobs—all of which will not occur in the absence of immigration reform or with reform that creates a permanent subcitizen class of residents. The report also shows that the timing of reform matters: The sooner we provide legal status and citizenship, the greater the economic benefits will be for the nation.