The Center for American Progress report, “Raising the Floor for American Workers,” says that the evidence is a “compelling” reason to move away from enforcement-only policies that “perpetuate unauthorized immigration and exert downward pressure on already low wages.”
The report suggests that creating a way for illegal immigrants to obtain legal, permanent status in the United States is more economically beneficial than expelling all illegal aliens and sealing the U.S.-Mexican border.
According to the findings:
- Comprehensive reform generates an annual increase in the U.S. GDP of at least 0.84 percent, amounting to $1.5 trillion during the next 10 years.
- The temporary worker program generates an annual increase in U.S. GDP of 0.44 percent, or $792 billion during 10 years. This program, however, will decrease wages for both Americans and illegal immigrants.
- Mass deportation reduces GDP by 1.46 annually, a loss of $2.6 trillion during 10 years. Wages would rise for less-skilled American workers, but would be reduced for higher-skilled workers and would lead to widespread job loss.
The Center for American Progress obtained its information by studying the 1986 Immigrant Reform and Control Act. The center says the act was implemented during a recession characterized by high unemployment; it still helped raise wages and spurred increases in educational, home and small-business investments by newly legalized immigrants, according to the report.
But other groups claim a “bailout for illegal immigrants” is the only lesson to be learned from the 1986 amnesty bill.
The Center for Immigration Studies said that the bill resulted in a tremendous amount of fraud, and led more people to enter the country illegally.
David North, author of a study examining the results of the 1986 law, said that most people receiving citizenship did so through fraud, and most of them were at the bottom of the U.S. labor market.
“The United States should not have another legalization program,” he said. “We have proved that amnesties simply beget more illegals, and they, in turn, beget new and more vigorous pleas for another amnesty. We know, or should know, that more people with limited skills and limited rights in the labor market can only lead to still greater discrepancies between the rich and the poor. Further, as a nation, we seem to be incapable of creating an adequate infrastructure for those who are already living here – why strain it further?