Immigration reform is the talk of the hour. While a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform is what is being hoped for, there is speculation of whether it will go through. The debate in the Congress and the White House is heating up.
In this scenario it is not new to hear about people considering immigrants a drain on the US economy, especially the undocumented immigrants. There are many factions claiming that to legalize the current undocumented immigrant population would bleed the exchequer. That trillions of dollars will go into legalizing these people who number around 11 million.
These people feel that the undocumented immigrants do not contribute to the economy in any way; that they get benefits from the government but do not give the government anything. This is a very skewed perception based on studies conducted earlier.
In one study by the Heritage Foundation it is estimated that to legalize immigrants it would cost $2.6 trillion. The author does give an explanation about how he arrives at this figure. However, he seems to have made a lot of assumptions as well, the most glaring one being that undocumented immigrants don’t have a high school education. What he fails to take into account is that these people can get more than a high school education if only they are legalized which would open a lot of opportunities for them.
There have been other studies too that perpetuate the notion that legalizing undocumented immigrants is going to be a huge cost to the government and that these people take rather than give. And like the above study, they often look at only certain aspects of the whole situation thereby skewing any findings.
People use such studies as references to argue against comprehensive immigration reform. However, it is quite contrary to what they believe. Legalizing immigrants will see the government getting more from them in the form of taxes. Immigrants contribute to the economy.
When undocumented immigrants are legalized, they have more options to get better education and thereby, better jobs. This in turn ups their spending power which is good for the economy. They will invest in property, buy a lot of consumer goods, etc. Businesses will grow to meet the rising demands. Job opportunities for both immigrants and native born Americans will get better.
Likewise, the DREAM Act has the requirement that the beneficiary should complete a high school education and serve in the military or go to college. Again, this is a benefit to the economy because these people will be better educated and will seek higher paying jobs and pay more taxes. Creating a path to citizenship will benefit the economy more because US citizens earn more than permanent residents.
One important point to note is the undocumented immigrants also pay taxes. And even immigrants pay into social benefits that even they cannot benefit from. Preventing immigrants from coming to the US, or preventing the legalization of undocumented persons will only adversely affect the social security fund.
Legalizing undocumented immigrants is the right path to take. Americans need to realize the benefit of this process instead of feeling threatened by it. People getting better education, and so better jobs and thus contributing to the economy will only help the economy grow leading to the creation of more jobs for everyone. It is necessary for Americans to understand the benefits of legal immigrants and aid the passing of the comprehensive immigration reform. Then, everyone will be a winner!