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States could see significant economic benefit from immigration reform

Sunday, March 22, 2015

In a recent essay, Bob Ferguson, Attorney General for the State of Washington, explained why he is leading a coalition of fourteen states, along with the District of Columbia, to encourage enforcement of President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. The coalition filed an amicus brief with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals explaining why a lower court’s decision blocking Obama’s action should be overturned. Ferguson’s reasoning rests squarely on the economic benefits of immigration.
One strong argument in support of reform is the effect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program has had on the wages for these “Dreamers,” as the beneficiaries of the program are often called.  Ferguson points to a report from National UnDACAmented Research Project and the Immigration Policy Center, which conducted a survey of working adults who came to the U.S. as undocumented children and were afforded temporary relief under DACA. After DACA went into effect, nearly 60 percent of those surveyed found new jobs. On average, with new employment and immigration status, the Dreamers’ wages went up 240 percent. Wage increases stimulate the economy, boost tax revenues and decrease reliance on social services. Recognizing immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. economy benefits everyone.
Ferguson cited Center for American Progress statistics showing potential tax revenues that could be realized by permitting deferred action-eligible individuals to enter the legal workforce. Over a five year period, California could see an estimated tax revenue increase of more than $900 million. In the same period, Illinois and Texas would realize nearly $350 million in additional tax revenue, while New York could see a revenue bump of $180 million.
With potentially billions of dollars in state and federal tax revenues on the table, delaying implementation of President Obama’s executive action is fiscally unsound. It’s time to set aside partisan differences and bring hundreds of thousands of workers that American businesses are already using into the mainstream economy.

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