Experts agree the state of the economy calls for action on immigration reform

LatinaLista — Ever since, it was reported last week that President Obama was going to address immigration reform probably as early as May, critics have argued that the White House’s attention on the issue deprives warranted attention on the economy.
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Undocumented day laborers wait to be hired for odd jobs.
In fact, in a CNN article, Latina Lista was asked if this was a politically good time to address immigration reform. Short answer is — yes.
However, not everybody agrees.
On a conference call today, sponsored by the Immigration Policy Center, discussing the “Economics of Immigration Reform,” one panelist on the call, Dr. Gerald D. Jaynes, Professor of Economics and Professor of African-American Studies at Yale University revealed that he didn’t always have a kind view of undocumented immigrants.
It wasn’t until he had an “aha” moment when he discovered something contrary to his assumptions about illegal immigration.


Dr. Jaynes felt sure that undocumented immigrants were adversely impacting low-skilled African American workers. So, in true academic fashion, he secured a grant, and together with a colleague, created a statistical model to prove his assumption.
After cases were examined and the analysis on the statistics completed, Dr. Jaynes found that the impact of the undocumented immigrant on low-skilled workers was minimal. The results shattered his assumed perspective on undocumented workers and he soon found himself being a proponent for comprehensive immigration reform — especially in these hard economic times.
Why?
There are several reasons as was expressed by the other conference call panelists: David Dyssegaard Kallick, Senior Fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute; Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center;
Esther Lopez, Director of Civil Rights and Community Action at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW); and Dan Siciliano, Executive Director of the Program in Law, Economics, and Business at Stanford Law School.
The major reason why reforming the immigration system is a timely action is that it will bring to the surface a flourishing underground economy that has been able to thrive and prosper because of the current immigration system. As a result, millions of dollars are not being payed in payroll taxes because workers are paid off the books and unscrupulous employers are exploiting workers, both native born and the undocumented.
In a fact sheet titled “The Economics of Immigration Reform,” cost analysis shows other costs of illegal immigration and why it’s time to fix the problem.

New legal immigrants to the U.S. would provide a net benefit of $407 billion to the Social Security system over 50 years, according to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers concluded that immigration increases the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by $37 billion each year.
Immigration raises wages for most Americans: Immigration has increased the average wages of all native-born workers. A 2006 study by Giovanni Peri, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California-Davis, found that, between 1990 and 2004, the roughly 90% of native-born workers with at least a high-school diploma experienced wage gains because of immigration ranging from 0.7% to 3.4%, depending on their level of education.

The bottom line is that immigration reform can be a win-win situation for everyone, with the icing on the cake being the benefits our economy would derive from immigration reform. The only party who will never feel like they’ve gained anything with immigration reform are those hardliners and extremists who see people of a different color skin or accented voices as threats to the racial make-up of this country.
For these critics, their fight has nothing to do with being opposed to immigration reform and everything to do with outright racial prejudice.
Unfortunately, there’s no bill that can be passed in Congress to alleviate their crisis.

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17 Comments

  1. Evelyn said:

    The only party who will never feel like they’ve gained anything with immigration reform are those hardliners and extremists who see people of a different color skin or accented voices as threats to the racial make-up of this country.
    For these critics, their fight has nothing to do with being opposed to immigration reform and everything to do with outright racial prejudice
    ~~~
    WOW! That means I was right all along. They are racists. Something I have been telling them for 2 years now. Some of them even admitted it without realizing! Ha! Ha!
    I wonder why they get offended? Did they actually think no one was ever going to know, the way they flaunt it and all?

  2. Horace said:

    Yeah, and others disagree and call it politically insane. We can reduce our unemployment rate by displacing illegal aliens with U.S. citizens. Marisa’s article is put out by people who are once again using convoluted logic to keep foreigners in jobs that Americans will eventually fight over to obtain. It’s just another pathetic overreach by the illegal alien advocacy people who can’t quite grasp that their opportunity for bullying their way to amnesty has come and gone. They tried charity and everyone saw through that. Now we have this.

  3. Sandra said:

    Totally untrue that most Americans who are opposed to another amnesty do so because of skin color and racial prejudice. This propoganda BS has got to stop! We have been racially diverse since this country’s founding.
    I find it funny Marisa, that you post a picture of day laborers and say they are “undocumented”. I have seen similar pictures posted on anti sites and they get raked over the coals for making the same assumption. They are accused of stereotyping, racial profiling and asked “how do you know they are illegals”?

  4. zamanthia said:

    Also, I personally believe that it will strenghten our conceptions of democracy, globalization and diversity. Immigrants have come to the U.S. not to overrun native-born population, they have come with no intentions of harming but to pursue a better life which everybody has the right to have. It is time as Marisa is stating to overcome prejudices and embrace similarities instead of differences.

  5. Karen said:

    Horace: They already have those jobs. Now the government wants to collect taxes from them. And if they’re legal, that’s less money the government has to pay to the prison industry. Prisons charge the government billions to house people who have worked here illegally.
    I doubt that any legalization will make them citizens with voting rights. They just want their labor and their taxes.

  6. Horace said:

    “Prisons charge the government billions to house people who have worked here illegally.”
    I recently heard a Democrat congressman say that there’s no such thing as wasteful spending, just stimulus spending. Enforcing our immigration laws requires us to hire more Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Building prisons for illegal aliens employs thousands of citizens in the construction industry. Hiring guards for such facilities is a great employment strategy. All of these new government agents spend money to keep our economy going. Arresting and incarcerating illegal aliens is actually a great stimulus strategy, and the only stimulus spending with which I agree.

  7. Evelyn said:

    Building prisons for illegal aliens employs thousands of citizens in the construction industry. Hiring guards for such facilities is a great employment strategy. All of these new government agents spend money to keep our economy going. Arresting and incarcerating illegal aliens is actually a great stimulus strategy, and the only stimulus spending with which I agree.
    Did someone say Neo-Nazi?

  8. Horace said:

    Evelyn said: “The only party who will never feel like they’ve gained anything with immigration reform are those hardliners and extremists who see people of a different color skin or accented voices as threats to the racial make-up of this country.”
    Yeah, legalizing 20 million poor and illiterate who barely function in an English speaking society is a good thing and we have nothing to worry about when, as future citizens, they inevitably prevail upon our welfare state to supplement their income. The latest information is that illegal immigrants have more children than they can actually support. Nothing to worry about, as there’s plenty of tax money to extract from the citizens to take care of them. Yeah, it’s all about color. That’s all we care about, color and it’s why Hispanics are in the majority as new legal immigrants. We permit millions of them to come legally so we can discriminate against and harass them. Nobody’s buying your crap, Evelyn.

  9. Evelyn said:

    Horace:
    Yeah, legalizing 20 million poor and illiterate who barely function in an English speaking society is a good thing and we have nothing to worry about when, as future citizens, they inevitably prevail upon our welfare state to supplement their income. The latest information is that illegal immigrants have more children than they can actually support. Nothing to worry about, as there’s plenty of tax money to extract from the citizens to take care of them. Yeah, it’s all about color. That’s all we care about, color and it’s why Hispanics are in the majority as new legal immigrants. We permit millions of them to come legally so we can discriminate against and harass them. Nobody’s buying your crap, Evelyn.
    Gee thanks for making my point for me with your article full of racist statements and lies used to demonize immigrants. That crap you spew is what Americans are separating themselves from. They have found out there are credable news stories out there.
    Speaking of the 20 million poor and illiterate who barely function in an English speaking society, well it seems they did just fine. If they hadn’t
    you and other white Americans wouldent be here.
    Obama Immigration Proposal May Not Be at Odds With Economy
    Study Finds Obama Reform Plans Could Be a Plus for Worker Pay
    Yesterday, the Immigration Policy Center (the research arm of the American Immigration Law Foundation) released a new report , “The Economics of Immigration Reform: What Legalizing Undocumented Immigrants Would Mean for the U.S. Economy.” The report is chock full of facts and figures showing that legalizing undocumented workers would “improve wages and working conditions for all workers, and increase tax revenues for cash-strapped federal, state and local governments.” Comprehensive immigration reform legislation would “pay for itself through the increased tax revenue it generates,” and newly legalized workers would be better positioned to move into higher paying jobs, pay higher taxes, and spend more on goods and services – all of which would serve as an economic stimulus to the economy.
    The logic is simple. Legal workers earn on average 15 percent more than their illegal counterparts doing the same job, concludes a report done for the Department of Labor. Raising immigrants’ wages means they pay more in taxes, and have more money to spend in the economy. It also reduces the downward pressure on wages that’s long been exerted by the underground economy, where employers can skirt minimum wage and safety laws — which is why labor unions now support legalization, too.
    Other studies of undocumented workers suggest similar gains. The Fiscal Policy Institute, for example, studying the construction industry in New York City, found that nearly one in four workers were working “off the books.” As a result, the federal government lost about $272 million in 2005 because employers didn’t pay Social Security, Medicare, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance, and another $70 million lost in personal income taxes. Although most studies have found that more than half of undocumented immigrants work on the books and pay federal and state income, social security and Medicare taxes, about half of them don’t. Legalization would collect taxes from everyone.
    The impact on the cost of government services, however, is more controversial, with immigration restrictionists citing the heavy burdens that new immigrants place on social services systems. Still, most studies show that immigration ultimately leads to an overall increase in government revenue.
    A study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, estimated that the cost of the immigration reform bill proposed in 2006 would have been more than offset by the benefits. Legalization would have generated $66 billion over ten years from income and payroll taxes, which would have more than paid for the $54 billion in spending on refundable tax credits, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and food stamps that the groups estimated the government would spend on newly eligible immigrants and their families.
    Restrictionist groups, meanwhile, often cite an older study, from 1997, by the National Academy of Sciences that found that immigrants with no more than a high school education would initially cost the government more than they add in revenue. “If we’re talking about people in the [United States] illegally, we’re talking about people largely without more than a high school education,” said Steven Camarota, Director of Research for the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies. The NAS study, he said, finds that an immigrant who comes to the United States without a high school education creates a net fiscal drain in his lifetime of $89,000, meaning he used that much more in services than he paid in taxes. If he has a high school education, the drain was lower, around $39,000. Those with more than a high school education, on the other hand, had a positive fiscal effect. According to a Pew Hispanic Center study released today, about 25 percent of undocumented immigrants fall into that category.
    Nevertheless, a closer look at the National Academy of Sciences’ study shows a different picture. The study itself emphasizes the importance of taking a long-range view of immigration, rather than a one-year snapshot. Taking into account all of the various effects of immigration on the economy, including the effect on wages, demand, taxes and social services, the NAS actually found that immigration yields a gain in the overall economy – “on the order of $1 billion to $10 billion a year. Although this gain may be modest relative to the size of the U.S. economy, it remains a significant positive gain in absolute terms.”
    That’s because over time, legal immigrants tend to work hard, get an education and advance themselves and their families economically. And that has a positive ripple effect throughout the economy.
    “The U.S. economy is not a fixed pie,” said Dan Siciliano, Executive Director of the Program in Law, Economics and Business at Stanford Law School. “It is a dynamic economy that grows and shrinks depending on what’s going on.” Much of what drives growth has to do with the middle class, said Siciliano, who participated in a conference call of experts arranged by the Immigration Policy Center in conjunction with the release of its new report.
    A path to legalization for undocumented workers also serves as a path to enter the middle class. “This is critical,” he said.
    The problem with the current economy is the overall uncertainty, which decreases investment. “These problems are exaggerated and made worse if you’re undocumented,” said Siciliano. “Enfranchised consumers who are part of the above-ground economy are better consumers. You’re more willing to buy a home if you have certainty about your ability to stay in a community,” explained Siciliano. Immigrants are also more likely to invest in their own education and advancement, and that of their children, if they know they can stay and work where they are.
    In addition to the fixed-pie perspective, opponents of legalization often assume that if the government does not legalize their status, immigrants will leave.
    “What you sometimes hear is a kind of wishful thinking,” said David Kallick, a senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute who also participated in the IPC conference call. “If undocumented immigrants just vanished, wouldn’t that mean there would be jobs freed up for US workers? But people don’t just vanish.” What’s more, if they did, it would “cause tremendous disruption in US businesses” which would “lead to fewer jobs to go around,” he said. “Mass deportation would be terrible for the economy. And it’s not real. It’s not going to happen.”
    Not that mass deportation would be economical, either: the left-leaning Center for American Progress has found that deporting all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would cost $41 billion a year.
    Heavy spending on border enforcement alone also hasn’t kept people out. Even though spending on immigration enforcement more than tripled between 1993 and 2006, so has the number of undocumented immigrants in this country, notes the Immigration Policy Center in its report.
    Administration officials say that ultimately, any comprehensive immigration reform package President Obama supports would include not only a path to legalization, but improved enforcement at the border and development of an improved national computer database that would allow employers to check the work eligibility of new job applicants. (The current system, called E-Verify, is not widely used and has been criticized as unreliable and inefficient.)
    Still, Republican opponents of legalization, such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), have vowed to fight any such bill, arguing that this is no time to increase competition for legal U.S. workers for scarce jobs. “In our current economic crisis, Americans cannot afford to lose more jobs to illegal workers,” King told the New York Times. “American workers are depending on President Obama to protect their jobs from those in America illegally.”
    That labor unions, which have in the past expressed the same concerns, are now coming around to the immigration advocates’ side suggests a major shift in perspective about the potential impact of immigration reform on U.S. workers during a recession. We need an immigration system that is part of a national economic recovery program,” said Esther Lopez, Director of Civil Rights for the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union.
    Gerald Jaynes, a professor of Economics and African-American Studies at Yale, has also come around to supporting immigration reform, after years of resisting due to concern about the impact on low-wage workers.
    “Several years ago I was convinced that immigration significantly lowered native wages and employment,” he said at the IPC conference, but added that “subsequently, my statistical analyses forced me to conclude otherwise.” (Here is Jaynes’ testimony to Congress on the subject in 2007.) Although undocumented immigration has a slightly negative effect on native-born low-wage workers, he said, “the effects are relatively small, and in any event secondary to other causes of less educated workers’ dismal employment and wage experiences.” And because the work of immigrants often complements that of U.S.-born workers, “immigration can actually create jobs.”
    Immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for undocumented workers, then, “is likely to improve conditions” of the overall workforce, he said, echoing one of the major themes that immigrants’ advocates are using to promote a reform package expected to be introduced this year. “One of the major problems for native workers of low education and skills is that they are competing against undocumented workers who employers are taking advantage of,” said Jaynes. “So to eliminate exploitation for the undocumented in effect eliminates or minimizes exploitation in American labor
    http://washingtonindependent.com/38633/obama-immigration-proposal-may-not-be-at-odds-with-economy

  10. Karen said:

    “If they hadn’t
    you and other white Americans wouldn’t be here.”
    Isn’t it funny how he ignores his own history? Most Europeans who came here were convicts, indentured servants or serfs. Georgia and Virginia were originally penal colonies. With black slaves doing all of the work.
    And he rants and raves about government spending, but the only reason we have a middle class is because of FDR’s New Deal, which created massive public works projects and government programs for white people. They were all for government spending until LBJ created the Great Society. Then suddenly all government spending was wrong. Oh, except for Wall St crooks who have stolen trillions in just a few months. And the prison industry that wastes billions incarcerating non-criminals. Because in his world that creates jobs. It would never occur to his class to spend that money on education to train people to create things that move society forward.
    This is the effect of conservative propaganda: ignorance and doublethink.

  11. Horace said:

    Evelyn said: “Speaking of the 20 million poor and illiterate who barely function in an English speaking society, well it seems they did just fine. If they hadn’t
    you and other white Americans wouldent be here.”
    Well, Evelyn, if these people are capable of working for the rest of their lives, never resort to public assistance and never retire or get sick, they’d work out just fine. Unfortunately, they tend to do all of these things. And if you haven’t noticed, Social Security is tending to go bankrupt, and even if it didn’t, the money people receive from it won’t be enough to retire on. The 20 million poor and illiterate who will have nothing saved for the future in their old age will wind up withdrawing more than they put in and you, the misguided taxpayer will wind up paying the difference. And dumb people like you will deserve what you get, taxed out the wazoo. Almost everyone survives the first 65-years of life, Evelyn,it’s only when their source of income drys up and they are no longer fit to work in old age that the difficulties begin.

  12. Evelyn said:

    Well, Evelyn, if these people are capable of working for the rest of their lives, never resort to public assistance and never retire or get sick, they’d work out just fine. Unfortunately, they tend to do all of these things. And if you haven’t noticed, Social Security is tending to go bankrupt, and even if it didn’t, the money people receive from it won’t be enough to retire on. The 20 million poor and illiterate who will have nothing saved for the future in their old age will wind up withdrawing more than they put in and you, the misguided taxpayer will wind up paying the difference. And dumb people like you will deserve what you get, taxed out the wazoo. Almost everyone survives the first 65-years of life, Evelyn,it’s only when their source of income drys up and they are no longer fit to work in old age that the difficulties begin.
    Posted by Horace | 20 de Abril 2009
    You sound exacally like the Know Nothings did back in the day! HA! HA!
    Who died and left you to make all the rules?
    EQUALITY means they will be treated the same way all immigrants who came or come to America as soon as they are U.S. citizens.

  13. Horace said:

    “EQUALITY means they will be treated the same way all immigrants who came or come to America as soon as they are U.S. citizens.”
    You’re an idiot, Evelyn. Just as it would be stupid to permit the immigration of 20 million 80 year old indigent grandmothers, it’s stupid to import millions of people who have little in the way of prospects for an adequate retirement fund. Since neither will have made little or no contribution to Social Security, both wind as charges of the State in their old age with their hands in your wallet. This is exactly what the future of America will look like with your insistence on “Equality”. No nation on earth has prospered by importing poverty, but you stupidly advocate doing so.

  14. Horace said:

    Zamantha said: “Immigrants have come to the U.S. not to overrun native-born population, they have come with no intentions of harming but to pursue a better life which everybody has the right to have.”
    It’s not what illegal immigrants intend to do that causes the problem, it’s the unintended injury to the quality of life for those who are citizens already. The poor pay little in the way of income taxes, and thus other citizens have to make up for the shortfall. The poor and ill educated historically become a burden on society, causing a redistribution of wealth and the decline in the quality of life for the middle class. You people somehow think this country should become a huge charity, that our nation should transfer its wealth to foreigners, that it is our responsibility to support the entire world at our expense. I repeat, it is not the responsibility of the American people to import the entire country of Mexico and its cultural shortcomings.

  15. Evelyn said:

    Horace said
    You’re an idiot, Evelyn. Just as it would be stupid to permit the immigration of 20 million 80 year old indigent grandmothers, it’s stupid to import millions of people who have little in the way of prospects for an adequate retirement fund. Since neither will have made little or no contribution to Social Security, both wind as charges of the State in their old age with their hands in your wallet. This is exactly what the future of America will look like with your insistence on “Equality”. No nation on earth has prospered by importing poverty, but you stupidly advocate doing so.
    No Horace the Idiot it you! Who said anything about IMPORTING? They are already here, working and contributing, even to your paycheck, that is if you really are employed by our gov.! !! Geesh!!!

  16. Horace said:

    “No Horace the Idiot it you! Who said anything about IMPORTING? They are already here, working and contributing, even to your paycheck, that is if you really are employed by our gov.! !! Geesh!!!”
    That can easily be made a temporary condition if we enforce the laws that we as a democracy have enacted. Not giving amnesty and deporting them means that they will never collect Earned Income Tax Credits, never collect welfare, never get free health care, never get more out of Social Security than they put in, and never have an opportunity to sponsor more illiterate persons they call relatives etc. It is only when we cave to the demands of advocates of illegal aliens that we have lost the battle. Amnesty = Importing Poverty by giving the benefits of citizenship to illegal aliens.
    Everyone who works contributes to society, Evelyn, however it’s like the poor paying taxes to the treasury, many get back more than they put in. This is a principle that dumb folks like you can’t seem to comprehend. Try reading something authoritive about how the middile class and the rich make up for the tax shortfalls generated by the poor.

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