The latest research from the Center for American Progress (CAP) finds that the U.S. could reap $1.5 trillion in economic benefits by legalizing its vast population of unauthorized workers.
"The current enforcement-only approach to unauthorized immigration is not cost effective and has not deterred unauthorized immigrants from coming to the United States when jobs are available," the report notes.
"Rather, enforcement-only policies have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars while pushing unauthorized migration further underground."
The report points out additional economic benefits that comprehensive immigration reform could bring, such as fewer deaths among border crossers, reduced demand for people smugglers, less "circular migration" in favor of more "permanent settlement" among unauthorized immigrants, and less wage depression in low-wage labor markets.
CAP also notes that significant declines in unauthorized immigration have historically occurred only during downturns in the U.S. economy when U.S. labor demand is dampened.
Moreover, declining birth rates in Mexico will likely accomplish what tens of billions of dollars in border enforcement clearly have not: a reduction in the supply of migrants from Mexico who are available for jobs in the United States.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, without immigration, the nation’s labor force would decline by 7 million people, mostly between 2015 and 2035, as baby boomers start to retire.
“The availability of work in agriculture, construction and manufacturing has attracted millions of low-skilled workers from Latin America, especially Mexico,” Mark Mather, the associate vice president for domestic programs for the Population Reference told The New York Times.
“However, immigration levels have dropped since the onset of the recession, mostly due to a decline in new arrivals, rather than immigrants’ returning to their home countries.”
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