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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs