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8/6/2013 11:13:00 AM
Report: Immigration reform could boost employment, economy
Emilie Eaton
Cronkite News

Passing an immigration reform plan that provides for a pathway to citizenship could create as many as 123,680 jobs and boost the gross domestic product by $10.32 billion by 2014, according to a new study.

The report by Regional Economic Models Inc. predicted that Arizona alone would see 3,254 new jobs and an additional $264 million in economic output by 2014 if a pathway to legal status was established. By 2045, those numbers would rise to 19,731 new jobs and a $1.5 billion boost to the gross state product, the report said.

"It's showing comprehensive macroeconomic impacts on a state-by-state basis across all industry sectors," said Frederick Treyz, one of the authors of the study. It was presented Thursday at a Capitol Hill news conference, where a small group of lawmakers and business leaders called for action on immigration reform.

But others charged Thursday that, far from boosting the economy, a pathway to citizenship would actually harm it.

"Just because the economy is bigger, it doesn't mean we're better off," said Derrick Morgan, the vice president of domestic and economic policy at Heritage Foundation.

Morgan said many of those who apply for a pathway to citizenship would end up costing the U.S. more than they would put back into the economy, and that a pathway to citizenship would hurt the welfare system. Instead of a pathway to citizenship, he suggested the need for a temporary agriculture program and a visa program for high-skilled workers.

"When you're looking at immigration, you have to look at the benefits and the cost," Morgan said. "A lot of the immigration research that's done ignores that fiscal cost."

But Treyz and others disagreed.

"These proposals are about growing the economic pie," Treyz said of comprehensive immigration reform plans.

Treyz agreed that there is a need for expanded visa programs for both high-skilled and lesser-skilled workers - elements of reform that would also lead to additional U.S. economic growth.

Ken Barbic, the senior director of federal government affairs at the Western Growers Association, also spoke at Thursday's event and said that farmers need comprehensive immigration reform.

"Agriculture producers across the country right now need a legal, stable workforce," Barbic said.

He said restrictions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the mandated use of programs like E-Verify hurt the industry. He noted that strict immigration enforcement in Alabama and Georgia has hurt both the agriculture industry and the overall economy in those states.

Agriculture is vital to the economy and it provides a "safe and secure food supply" for Americans, Barbic said.

Thursday's event also included Reps. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif., who stressed the importance of comprehensive reform and its impact on the economy.

Cardenas said he has firsthand knowledge of the importance of a stable workforce in the agriculture industry.

"My father took me out to pick peaches one time. He had me by almost 40 years in age," Cardenas said. "I couldn't keep up with him.

"There's some skill in working hard and working those long hours," he said of the supposedly low-skilled farmworker jobs.

Cardenas and Denham said they hope the House acts soon on immigration reform so that states can see the economic benefits predicted in the report, and so farmers can continue providing a secure food supply to Americans.

"When we set things right, we will catapult our economy forward," Cardenas said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: US Citizen

Juan: You stated in your comment that many years ago, Illegals worked here, but took their money back over the border, and you stated that this was fine. The way the economy works is people buy groceries, pay bills, etc. That money in turn keeps other US citizens working. That is part of the problem now, is that, no taxes are paid, and the people that are paying taxes have to cover the cost of medical expenses, etc. for illegals. The Irish, as soon as arriving in the US, had to go to war, while their families lived in poverty. The African Americans had to endure slavery, and Every Other Race in this country had to pay dues, and become a citizen. We don't just tell people from Ireland or Africa that it is now ok for them to just come here and they will become a citizen, because of the hardships, their relatives endured. I'm not saying nor do I hope anyone has to endure this again. The US has too many enemies now, and it isn't safe, to leave these borders the way they are, and just allow people to live here, because they are already here. I DON'T understand why illegals are not protesting and trying to change what's wrong in Mexico?

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Article comment by: Keith Wilmot

Let them stand in line like the rest of us. Ask yourself, why? What makes them so special ? McCain and Flake are sell outs. They can kiss their jobs goodbye. If the families of illegals want to be with their families so desperately , why don't the go back to their families and be with them.? Why must they bring them to America? Why should we pay for their medical, education and housing?
Too many bleeding hearts. Obama wants votes and as long as people are getting freebies from our tax dollars they will take advantage of us. Time for a change.

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Article comment by: John Conner

Another amnesty propaganda article written by open border activists. In1986 we were promised by our politicians that their amnesty was a one time deal - that it would NEVER happen again. Well, 27 years later the politicians want to give amnesty to somewhere between 12 and 22 million more. If we do it now, it will come back again and again. We might as well have open borders and start renaming our cities in Spanish. America has enough people now. We don't need any more crowds. Enough with the lies.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

Yes lets reward law breakers! A slap to every person who jumped through all the hoops to come here legally.
A guest worker program would be enough.
This is about getting votes. The border could be closed and people here illegally could be deported. Its a matter of will. There is none.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: juan Sanchez

Illegals were working here many many years ago. They picked up their wages and took their money to their families over the border. That was fine.
The only reason the left is anxious for illegals to become citizens is VOTES.
We have a law in this country where people who wish to become American citizens should get in line. Economy, my foot. Low information voters will believe anything.

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