The anti-immigrationists are at it again. Unlike their nativist and racist rants against immigration reform in 2007, their new specious strategy to oppose any immigration reform is based on simplistic economic principles, that is, if we flood the U.S. economy with low-skilled workers, it would further depress wages and put a huge strain on our social services. Various groups state that their members, allegedly numbering more than 1.6 million, will be ready to inundate their members of Congress with phone calls and emails. As usual, the anti-immigrationists fail to discuss or understand both the economic benefits of more immigration and the negative impact of previous laws on keeping families together, including U.S. citizen spouses or children or both.
Numerous studies have concluded that an influx of legalized workers in the U.S. would not only stimulate our economy but also help U.S. workers. Studies show that those undocumented individuals who obtain legal status earn more than workers who are unauthorized which then causes a ripple effect in the U.S. economy. Higher wages leads to more tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments. Higher wages causes people to spend more which leads to the creation of more jobs in the U.S. economy. One particular study of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) states that a new legalization program would add tens of billions of dollars of income, billions of dollars in tax revenue, and hundreds of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers and immigrant workers alike. Furthermore, another study on the effect of IRCA found that “between 1990-2006, the educational attainment of IRCA immigrants increased substantially, their poverty rates fell dramatically, and their home ownership rates improved tremendously. Moreover, real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions, and the vast majority did not depend on public assistance.” The study further showed that the percentage of immigrant workers ages 16-35 living under the poverty level in 1990 declined by about 15% by 2006.
Fortunately, this time around, many in the Republican Party seem to be open to changing our ineffective immigration laws. Bipartisan committees acknowledge that legalizing the undocumented will not only provide a much needed boost to our economy, but will also keep spouses and children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents together. I don’t think that individuals are aware that if you are a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent and you petition today for your 22 year-old son/daughter, the current waiting time before the application can be approved is more than 100 years. Such a scenario is outrageous. No parent is going to live without a child for even one-tenth of that time.
Now is the time to beat back the loud but minority point of view of the anti-immigrationists. Immigration reform is not only good for our economy, but our country has a moral obligation to keep the children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents together. Let’s all contact our members of Congress and support comprehensive immigration reform because the U.S.A. will be better off with a new, more humane approach to immigration.