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Economic Progress via Legalization: Lessons from the Last Legalization Program

By Rob Paral

The data analyzed in IPC's latest Special Report, Economic Progress via Legalization, indicates that unauthorized immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980s through the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) experienced clear improvement in their socioeconomic situation.  Between 1990 and 2006, the educational attainment of IRCA immigrants increased substantially, their poverty rates fell dramatically, and their home ownership rates improved tremendously.  Moreover, their real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions, and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance. The findings presented in this report support the notion that legalization of unauthorized immigrants can play a role in promoting economic growth and lessening socioeconomic disparities.  Reforming our immigration system is not an obstacle to getting our economy back on track—it is part of the solution.

Originally Published Nov. 5, 2009

Published On: Thu, Jan 31, 2013 | Download File

Legalize Who?: A Portrait of the 11 Million Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States

As the immigration debate heats up in Congress, the central question will be what to do about the 11 million unauthorized immigrants now living and working in the United States. The media often portrays this population as barely literate young men who pour over the southern border and live solitary lives, rather than providing a nuanced understanding of who the 11 million really are: adults and children, mothers and fathers, homeowners and churchgoers who are invested in their communities. This fact sheet attempts to provide a basic understanding of who the unauthorized are as people: where they live, where they’re from, how long they have been here, and what family and community ties to the United States they have.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources provide this very necessary social context to the immigration debate. And what the data reveal are that most of the unauthorized have been here for over a decade. While they are concentrated in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, there are sizeable unauthorized populations in other states across the country. Three-fifths of unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico, but significant numbers also come from Central America and the Philippines. Nearly half of all adult unauthorized immigrants have children under the age of 18, and roughly 4.5 million native-born U.S.-citizen children have at least one unauthorized immigrant parent. More than half of unauthorized immigrant adults have a high-school diploma or more education. Nearly half of longtime unauthorized households are homeowners. And approximately two-fifths of unauthorized immigrant adults attend religious services every week. In other words, most unauthorized immigrants are already integrating into U.S. society not only through their jobs, but through their families and communities as well.Read more...

Published On: Thu, Jan 31, 2013 | Download File

Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians

US ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the United States (Updated May 2014)

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Published On: Sat, Jan 19, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Louisiana

Louisiana ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Pelican State (Updated May 2013)

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Virginia

Virginia ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Old Dominion State (Updated May 2014)

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View the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet for Virginia

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in New Jersey

New Jersey ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Garden State (Updated May 2014)

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View the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet for New Jersey

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in New Hampshire

New Hampshire ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Granite State (Updated May 2014)

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Hawaii

Hawaii ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Asians, and Latinos in the Aloha State (Update May 2014)

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Nevada

Nevada ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Silver State (Updated May 2014)

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File

New Americans in Arkansas

Arkansas ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Natural State (Updated May 2014)

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View the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet for Arkansas

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File