The immigration debate is shaping up to be one of 2013’s most hot-button issues, but it also offers a promising opportunity for bipartisan legislation with members of both parties demanding action and necessitating reform. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) recently announced its Immigration Task Force - co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell - which aims to address this important issue that was last revisited in 1996.
Last week the Center for American Progress held an event to release their report, The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants, detailing the financial impacts for the United States of offering various legal statuses to immigrants over a ten year timeframe. The report offers three potential scenarios for 11 million currently undocumented immigrants: acquiring legal status in 2013 but no citizenship within ten years, acquiring legal status in 2013 and citizenship in five years and acquiring legal status and citizenship in 2013.
The report tracks the economic benefits of each of these scenarios over ten years, and found that the greatest benefit for the U.S. economy resulted from granting undocumented immigrants both legal status and citizenship in 2013. In this case, the report projects the U.S. gross domestic product would grow an additional $1.4 trillion cumulatively. It argues that granting legal status and citizenship in 2013 as opposed to granting citizenship on a slower track provides superior economic benefits because the sooner immigrants gain citizenship the sooner they are able to utilize services offered only to full citizens, including: legal protections, education and training investment, access to better jobs, better labor mobility and increasing returns and the ability to foster entrepreneurship.
The Kaufmann Foundation found a similar correlation between immigrants and increased entrepreneurship in their Studies in the Immigrant Entrepreneurs series, which found that “Foreign nationals residing in the United States were named as inventors or co-inventors in 25.6 percent of international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006. This represents an increase from 7.6 percent in 1998.” Another study by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that over the past two decades, immigrants have been responsible for 30 percent of the growth in small business creation.
BPC's Immigration Task Force will continue the debate around the economic, as well as the social and security, implications of immigration as they begin to work towards their ultimate policy recommendations in the coming year.
Center for American Progress
Bipartisan Policy Center