Deal's number came from a recent Federation for American Immigration Reform report that actually puts the cost at $1.6 billion, he said. The Immigration Policy Center, though, cast doubt on the FAIR report, saying it included the cost of educating children who courts have ruled must be allowed to attend school. It also does not take into account the wages illegal immigrants spend and the taxes they pay, IPC said.
The Immigration Policy Center, an arm of the Washington-based American Immigration Council, says the program lacks sufficient oversight and a clear procedure for people detained in error to lodge complaints.
The Immigration Policy Center reported, "If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Oregon, the state would lose $3.4 billion in economic activity, $1.5 billion in gross state product, and approximately 19,259 jobs."
Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, called the lawsuit filed yesterday an important step for the federal government to reassert its authority over immigration policy.
"While a legal challenge by the Department of Justice won't resolve the public's frustration with our broken immigration system, it will seek to define and protect the federal government's constitutional authority to manage immigration," Johnson said.
The Immigration Policy Center, the research and policy arm of the Washington-based American Immigration Council, put out a statement saying the report was "highly misleading" because FAIR "completely discounts the economic contributions of unauthorized workers and consumers."
"When we look at history, you see that immigration goes up in times of economic prosperity and down when the economy is not doing so well," said Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center. The influx spurred opposition from many citizens, who said Irish immigrants were taking Americans' jobs and opposed the immigrants' religion. Politicians demanded laws to make it harder for foreigners to become U.S. citizens.
In 1875, the U.S. passed its first restrictive immigration law. It prevented prostitutes and convicts from entering the country.
"Throughout history, it is the laws that really define who is legal and who is illegal," Waslin said. "At different parts of U.S. history, different groups have been illegal depending on what law there was at the time."
A January report by the liberal Center for American Progress and Immigration Policy Center noted that a large population of unauthorized immigrants — 10 to 12million, per most estimates — depresses wages for low-skilled jobs. Unscrupulous employers can hire and underpay unlawful workers, who have no ability to unionize or push back politically. In other words, the larger the undocumented population, the smaller the clout of organized labor.
Legalizing unlawful immigrants and ensuring the rights of all workers, the CAP and IPC study concluded, would “help American workers” by “rais[ing] the ‘wage floor’ for the entire U.S. economy.” Newly naturalized workers could also give unions a boost, particularly if they view them as allies early on.