Immigration Reform Is Good for Economic Recovery

Source: Angela Maria Kelley, Gebe Martinez, Center for American Progress, November 30, 2009

It might seem counterintuitive to enact immigration reforms and legalize up to 8 million workers in the United States who are without documents, including many who pay taxes. But the simple truth is that updating our immigration laws will generate tax revenues by requiring all workers and employers to be in the system and level the playing field for business owners who play by the rules.

Comprehensive immigration reform would require current undocumented immigrants and their employers to pay their full and fair share of taxes once they come out of the shadows and register to earn legal status. The reform bill passed by the Senate in 2006, which included a legalization program, would have generated $66 billion in new income and payroll taxes during 2007-2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Fixing the immigration system would also level the playing field for business owners. Reforms would keep law-abiding businesses from constantly being undercut by outlaw employers who exploit workers by making them work in substandard conditions and at lower wages. Workplace rights, which are sought by labor unions that have united behind comprehensive immigration reform, will put upward pressure on wages, which will benefit native workers, as well.

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