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.
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.
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.