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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid