Immigration reform needed for economic growth

Immigration reform needed for economic growth

Story by Debora Biasutti

Since this year’s State of the Union Speech, President Barack Obama has called on Congress to pass  comprehensive immigration reform. Obama has been traveling around the United States, meeting with politicians and reiterating the reasons why the country needs to improve its immigration law. But meetings and speeches are not enough; he must do more.

Roughly, there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are being exploited by employers who pay them below the minimum wage and expose them to filthy working conditions. Not only that, according to an article from the Huffington Post,  the current immigration system costs the American economy billions in “lost productivity, wasted resources, underdeveloped human capital, depressed wages and uncollected tax revenue.”

The country can’t just ship and deport the million of immigrants that are currently in the country.

Obama needs to push Congress to pass a long-term reform that would give the 12 million illegal immigrants amnesty, making them legal to live and work in the U.S. so they can boost the economy by earning more
income, paying taxes and consuming products that would generate tax revenues to the government.

According to a Center for American Progress study, the comprehensive immigration reform would lead to a $1.5 trillion growth in gross domestic product over the next ten years. An economic growth that is much needed for America’s current situation.

This long-term reform to legalize undocumented residents should start with immigrants who have held a steady job, own a home and have passed criminal background checks. The government should also encourage them to pay their taxes, learn English and study civics so they can successfully become legal American citizens.

Another legislation that needs to be put in place is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act, which was sacked last year by the Republicans but reintroduced to Congress in May by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), would also provide children who were brought to the U.S. illegally a path to citizenship if they pursue a college education or military service.

According to a study by University of California-Los Angeles, a sum
between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion in taxable income would be generated over a 40-year period based upon 825,000 to 2.1 million potential DREAM Act beneficiaries. Clearly, an immigration reform is needed for long-term economic growth and job creation.

But the legal immigration system also needs tougher laws. The government needs to crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants and practice unfair labor practices, invest more in the Border Patrol so they can minimize the entry of illegal immigrants through Mexico, and prosecute and deport those who have their tourist, temporary worker and student visas expired.

Obama must do more than just call on Republicans to move beyond their differences, he needs to start and continue the debate by using his office’s administrative powers. Obama promised to pass immigration reform in the first year of his administration and now he only has one year left for that.

Debora Biasutti is a senior print journalism major and News Editor at The Spectator.