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New study: legalizing undocumented workers would boost economy

I don’t want this to get lost in the shuffle of a big news week: a new study from the DC-based Immigration Policy Center concluded yesterday that a path to legalization for undocumented workers would create jobs and boost the economy.

Not only do legalized workers earn more, spend more, and pay more in taxes, that increased consumer spending creates more American jobs. This is only the latest research to conclude that this is true — a 2009 study by the libertarian Cato Institute found the same thing.

The new research adds to another report from earlier in the month, which found that even less-skilled workers benefit from the presence of undocumented people. Without immigration, the study found, “less-skilled workers would also be forced to pay higher prices for food, medical care, and housing.”

We’ve talked a lot about the Dream Act as a small, common-sense reform that helps families. What we don’t often talk about is that creating a path to citizenship is also a jobs program for all Americans.

5 Comments

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  2. Alex

    January 22, 2011 at 7:05 am

    This is one of those studies that borders on being ridiculous. So, a Latino worker who has been accustomed to being paid in cash, and then becomes legal having to pay payroll taxes and income taxes would suddenly start to spend more dollars. All I can say is that we have some gullible people if anyone believes this. At the same time, becoming legal would also provide an array of social services which the taxpayers would have to provide. I’ve heard it all now.

  3. Jeff Shaw

    January 22, 2011 at 8:07 am

    All these studies have going for them are facts. You have an ideology, which is of course far more compelling. And there are dozens of studies, not just the one.

    Undocumented workers might (or might not) get paid in cash, but it’s also easier for employers to pay them less than minimum wage — or not pay them at all. It’s also nigh impossible for them to start a business, gain access to higher education, or take part in other economic activity that generates tax revenue. Creating a path to legalization would benefit everyone.

    Plus, if we’re to take your arguments at face value, you believe that undocumented workers get paid in cash, spend a lot of money, and do not have access to social services. If this is true, then it seems like you’d want to write them a series of thank-you cards for boosting the economy without having access to services.

    But don’t let me distract you from looking for whatever chain of “facts” will justify how you feel anyway. Carry on.

  4. Alex

    January 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I think the one thing you always forget is that studies can be used to reach any conclusion that a group might want. It’s all in how the study is designed, but it does not preclude using common sense. I could design a study with facts that Jeff is always right with every idea, but we all know that probably isn’t true.

  5. Jeff Shaw

    January 22, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I’m always willing to listen to arguments for why a particular study has a flawed methodology.

    Given that dozens of studies by both right- and left-wing organizations have found the same thing, though — and the original link offers numerous original studies to choose from for your reading pleasure — I think it’s difficult to make the argument that all these organizations are working in concert to reach the same conclusions.