A new report, “Raising the Floor for American Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” by UCLA’s Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, finds that comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization program for unauthorized immigrants and enables a future flow of legal workers would result in a large economic benefit—a cumulative $1.5 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) over 10 years. In stark contrast, a deportation-only policy would result in a loss of $2.6 trillion in GDP over 10 years. The Center for American Progress has estimated that mass deportation would cost the U.S. tax payers between $206 billion to $230 billion over five years.
The benefits of additional GDP growth would be spread broadly throughout the U.S. economy, but immigrant-heavy sectors such as textiles, electronic equipment, and construction would see particularly large increases. A separate report from the CATO Institute also found that the higher earning power of newly legalized workers would mean increased tax revenues of $4.5-$5.4 billion in the first three years. Higher personal income would also generate increased consumer spending—enough to support 750,000–900,000 jobs in the United States.
The real wages of less-skilled newly legalized workers would increase by roughly $4,405 per year, while higher-skilled workers would see their income increase $6,185 per year. The wages of native-born high skill and low skill U.S. workers also increase modestly under comprehensive immigration reform because the “wage floor” rises for all workers.
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