A project of the Center for Community Change

The Elephant in the (economic) Room: Immigration Reform

On Monday, President Obama released his budget, which has a heavy focus on job creation and economic improvement.

While many of Obama’s ever-ready opponents complained about the amount of spending in the budget in the name of lowering the deficit, there is one solution that people truly concerned about economic recovery have yet to address: comprehensive immigration reform.

Mahwish Khan at America’s Voice helps to boil down the options:

There is a $4.1 trillion choice in Washington. We did the math, and put simply:

Comprehensive Immigration Reform = $1.5 trillion increase in GDP over 10 years

Mass Deportation = $2.6 trillion loss in GDP over 10 years

And there are the numbers to back this up. Two separate reports have recently been published that show comprehensive immigration reform would be a boon to our economy, while mass deportation would drive us further into our current economic crisis.

Congress has a $4 trillion choice to make:  pass comprehensive immigration reform and grow the economy by $1.5 trillion – or enact the anti-immigrant lobby’s impractical mass deportation agenda, at any cost.

One lawmaker who seems to understand the inextricable link between immigration reform and the economy is Representative Luis Gutierrez. Today, in the Hill, he writes:

Comprehensive immigration reform by definition means change that helps workers and business. Unless Congress acts to end the status quo, American workers will continue to be pitted against immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers who drive down wages, avoid taxes and violate labor laws. Taxpayers who pay their full and fair share will continue to be undercut by workers and employers who do not. And employers who pay decent wages, offer good benefits, and follow all the rules will continue to be destabilized by bad-actor employers who game the system.

We cannot put off legislation that ends this kind of unchecked corruption at the expense of our economic security. America’s workers want it for their own protection; American employers need it to operate effectively and ethically; taxpayers deserve it to stop shouldering the cost of a broken system. And Congress owes it to them to do our jobs.

The time is ripe for immigration reform to be considered as not only the right thing to do, but economically sound thing to do. This is a win-win scenario for lawmakers, the American public and the economy. By continuing to ignore this reality, Congress is not solving the hard problems we elected them to address and they are losing the faith of the voters who put them in office.

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