With Congress embroiled in discussions about the debt ceiling and the budget, little attention is being paid to the stalled effort to enact immigration reform. In June 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill, S. 744, which included provisions covering a wide range of important topics, from enhanced enforcement at the border to additional visas for qualified immigrants to legalizing the undocumented. Since then, the House has declined to take up the comprehensive strategy and is pursuing a piecemeal strategy which seems deliberately destined to lead nowhere.
What is the cost of doing nothing? According to a report from the North American Integration and Development Center at UCLA in just the first three years following legalization, the “higher earning power of newly legalized workers would translate into an increase in net personal income of $30.0 to $36.0 billion, which would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue. Moreover, an increase in personal income of this scale would generate consumer spending sufficient to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs.”
As Congress declines to pursue initiatives to reform our broken immigration laws, it is missing out on opportunities which would lead to increased consumer spending, increased demand for housing and increased tax revenues. Experts agree that broad-based immigration reform, including legalization of the undocumented, would revitalize cities, provide needed labor in agriculture and hospitality and keep high-skilled technology workers in the U.S. Immigration reform will stimulate the American economy while helping millions of individuals and families towards an earned path to citizenship. The failure of Congress to act does not serve our national interest.