WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the State of the Union Address last night, President Obama made clear his ongoing commitment to immigration reform noting “we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.” Some may continue to argue that immigration reform is too politically risky to move on this year and that we should focus instead on rebuilding our economy. However, comprehensive immigration reform is compatible with economic reform as it would generate needed economic growth, create jobs and increase tax contributions by ensuring that everyone working in the United States is doing so legally. In fact, immigration reform would allow us to take full advantage of the opportunities for economic growth that immigrants bring.
In his White House press briefing yesterday, Robert Gibbs seemed to suggest that President Obama would address the subject of immigration reform in his speech tonight. Why he would introduce such a polarizing topic into the already toxic atmosphere in Washington is unclear to me, but if, in fact, he does, I think it's safe to assume he won't be dwelling on it very long. The chances of getting an immigration-reform bill passed this year, which were iffy to begin with, faded to near black in the wake of the Massachusetts Special Election That Changed Everything. If the message from the Bay State was that the administration needs to focus on repairing an economy that has shed millions of jobs, it's hard to imagine selling the country on the need to legalize millions more workers. But that's not to say the administration won't try.
Congress has a 41st Republican senator, but Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is challenging that notion. Yes, Graham does gain a new Republican colleague on Capitol Hill very soon (Senator-elect Scott Brown, of Massachusetts). In response to that, though, Graham announced on Friday his “willingness to tackle tough issues, including immigration” by breaking from partisan politics and finding a way to cooperate with the Democrats.
Of the Senator’s announcement, Immigration Impact’s Travis Packer quoted Graham as saying:
“Is the message that Democrats shouldn’t take on anything controversial and is the message that we should not work with them on anything controversial? … How much risk aversion does it create in the United States Senate to deal with tough issues like energy independence, climate change and immigration? … I hope that’s not the message. It’s not the message to me. The real reason we’re all here is to govern the country and do hard things.”
“Immigrants don’t want to learn English.” “Immigrants don’t pay taxes.” “Immigrants increase the crime rate.” “Immigrants take jobs away from Americans.” “Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy.” “Illegal immigrants are a burden on the U.S. health care system.”
Americans have been using these generalizations for 150 years to stigmatize members of every ethnic group that has traveled to these shores seeking a better life for themselves and their children.
Comprehensive immigration reform would produce at least $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years, according to a new report by a UCLA professor. Based on this report and other studies, Illinois would see significant economic gains from legalizing undocumented immigrants.
IF CONGRESS has any sense, it will pass immigration reform this year. That's the topic of this week's column.
A new report from the Centre for American Progress, an Obamaphile think-tank, finds that comprehensive immigration reform would add $1.5 trillion to America's GDP over ten years.
Not everything that raises GDP is a good idea. Reihan Salam, a conservative writer, pointed out to me yesterday that annexing Canada would raise GDP by a lot. But it would have serious downsides, such as Americans having to find out where Canada is.
As the U.S. unemployment rate hovers at around 10 percent, a key question is emerging in the unfolding immigration reform debate: whether legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants will further erode the economy or speed its recovery. The answer is hard to pin down because of clashing conclusions in recently issued reports.
Over the past year Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has emerged as perhaps the most outspoken proponent within the Obama administration of a comprehensive immigration reform, one balancing a strong enforcement oriented approach with a clearer, more coherent, “fair and firm” pathway toward legal citizenship.
“Our system must be strong enough to prevent illegal entry and to get criminal aliens off our streets and out of the country,” Secretary Napolitano said in a policy speech in November, “but it must also be smart enough to reward the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants have always brought to America—traits that have built our nation.”
Here's yet another argument supporting the need for comprehensive immigration reform, an issue that the Obama administration has thankfully targeted as a priority in 2010.
A study released last week concluded that legalizing the status of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country would create jobs, increase consumption, boost wages, add to tax revenues and, in sum, "yield at least $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years."
Legalizing the status of the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants living in America would create jobs, increase wages and boost the sagging U.S. economy, according to a study released Thursday. The study by UCLA associate professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda found that citizenship and flexible limits on legal immigration would serve future labor demands and boost wages for native-born workers.