While Washington continues to debate the merits of a comprehensive immigration reform, a pair of recent studies has shown that while legalizing the status of those working in the United States illegally could help the economy, the road is paved with institutional dangers.
A joint study released by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Immigration Policy Center—entitled Raising the Floor for American Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform—found that bringing the approximately 12 million unauthorized immigrants into the “official” economy would add some $1.5 trillion to the GDP over 10 years.
In the short term (three years) it would generate $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in additional tax revenue and consumer spending sufficient to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs, the research also found.
Angela M. Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at CAP, said lawmakers should keep these numbers in mind. “It would be to their peril to be short-sighted and not pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will reverberate across the economy and help all Americans.”
However, a report published by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) highlighted the problems with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act legalization program, which it says provides a cautionary tale.
According to CIS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) did not act as a law-enforcement agency but a “typical” governmental agency and usually approved applicants’ petitions.
The organization also stressed that the INS failed to establish a credible decision-making process that severely hampered the detection of fraud.