News / USA

Experts Debate Economic Impact of US Immigration Reform

Experts Debate Economic Impact of US Immigration Reformi
X
February 21, 2014 12:35 AM
Despite near unanimous agreement that the U.S. immigration system is broken, it appears doubtful that Congress will take up the issue this year. Some say lawmakers are missing the bigger point that immigration reform is not a political issue but an economic one. Mil Arcega has more.
Despite near unanimous agreement that the U.S. immigration system is broken, it appears doubtful that Congress will take up the issue this year.  Republicans say they don’t trust the president to enforce new rules - a charge many Democrats says is simply a political excuse to deny a Democratic president a legislative victory in an election year.  But some say lawmakers are missing the bigger point that immigration reform is not a political issue but an economic one.

Experts said communities paid a heavy price when 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the shadows.  And for a country that prides itself in its humanitarian beliefs - fixing a broken immigration system should be a high priority. 

“I think that each day that Congress delays this decision people are getting hurt, are getting hurt by the deportation machine, that is as I said before, separating families every day," said Guillermo Cantor, a senior analyst at the Immigration Policy Center.

Cantor said there were other reasons why Congress should act.

“And one of them that sometimes gets overlooked is that it would result in enormous economic benefits for this country,” he said.

But critics of immigration reform said the government’s own studies suggested otherwise. 

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said, “How can we vote for a bill that our own Congressional Budget Office says will reduce average wages in America for 12 years?”

Sessions is only half right.  The CBO report said reforms would reduce average wages one-tenth of one percent (0.1 percent) by 2023 but that's because the estimate included wages from lower-skilled workers who would become legal residents.  After 10 years, the report said wages would rise about half of a percent, more than they would without reforms.

But that's just part of the story said Marc Rosenberg at the Migration Policy Institute 

“Legalization is probably going to help the U.S. economy.  It’s also going to bring more people into the tax system, so it probably has a net fiscal benefit of people paying more taxes," he said. "In the long run however, unauthorized immigrants who become legal will also be eligible for additional services, so the fiscal impact has pluses and minuses.”

As it stands, the Center for Immigration Studies said the negatives outweighed the positives. 

Spokesperson Marguerite Telford said their studies showed economic gains -- quickly diminished by the larger demand for social programs.

She said, “and when you look at 36 percent of immigrants are on at least one welfare program and you look at how much it’s costing, you know, how long can we keep affording it?,"

With so many Americans looking for work, Telford said annual admissions of about 1.1 million legal immigrants were too generous and should be cut in half.

One solution is to take a more selective approach to immigration. Chinese student Ting Gong said expanding work permit programs for foreign students, who graduated from American universities, was an excellent place to start.

“Because you know the students who work here are highly educated and we can contribute our skills and everything to this country” Ting said.

Despite disagreement on how, the majority of economists agree reforms would expand the U.S. economy.  Critics said it did so at a heavy price - while others said the cost of doing nothing - would be worse.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid