Granting undocumented immigrants immediate citizenship would add $1.4 trillion to economic growth, increase tax revenues by $184 billion and create 203,000 jobs over the next decade, according to a new study from the Center for American Progress.
“Unauthorized immigrants are currently earning far less than their potential, paying much less in taxes, and contributing significantly less to the U.S. economy than they potentially could,” authors Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford explain in the report.
Within five years of earning citizenship, an undocumented worker would make 25.1 percent more annually, Lynch, of the Department of Economics at Washington College, told The Huffington Post. These wage gains “ripple through the economy” as immigrants use their income to stimulate the economy and pay taxes, he writes in the report.
Lynch and Oakford also studied the economic impact of providing legal status in 2013 but waiting five years to grant citizenship. The researchers found that a delay in granting citizenship would mean it would take 10 years instead of five for the incomes of the undocumented to increase 25.1 percent –leading to a smaller positive impact on the economy.
“The timing of immigration reform has a huge impact on the overall economic benefits,” Lynch told HuffPost. “The sooner you provide legalization and citizenship, the more you maximize those benefits.”
A U.S. Department of Labor study found that immigrants that were granted citizenship under Reagan’s 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act experienced a 15.1 percent increase in their average inflation-adjusted wages.
Lynch said he has not come across a reputable study that shows a contradictory conclusion, and said that economists are in “pretty universal” agreement on the issue. However, a recent Hamilton Project paper was inconclusive about how granting citizenship would affect the wages of Americans with less than a high school diploma.
In addition, Lynch cautioned that although the results of providing citizenship are clearly positive, they are not “sufficient enough to bring back a massive resurgence in the U.S. economy.”
Source: Caroline Fairchild, Granting Undocumented Immigrants Citizenship Would Boost Economy By $1.4 Trillion: Study, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/undocument-immigrants-citizenship-economy-_n_2917719.html, 03/22/2013
This article was written by Staff