An Immigration Reform for a Nation of Immigrants

Earlier this week, as part of a series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I attended the White House Ladders of Opportunity Forum. As I responded to questions about inequality, housing, jobs, and a host of other issues that affect the middle class and those striving to reach the middle class, I got a couple of questions that come up frequently in the course of my work. The first question was about how the current immigration debate affects these economic issues. And the second was from an African immigrant wondering what a new immigration law might mean for her. 

There’s a reason that President Obama describes immigration reform as an economic imperative, and now that the Senate has passed a bill with a strong bipartisan vote, we can actually measure what the economic impact of this bill will be. The numbers are impressive: the Senate-passed immigration bill would:

  • Strengthen the overall economy and grow U.S. GDP by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 percent in 2033 – an increase of roughly $700 billion in 2023 and $1.4 trillion in 2033 in today’s dollars.
  • Increase real wages by 0.5 percent in 2033 relative to current law – the equivalent of about an annual $250 increase today for a median household.
  • Reduce the federal deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next 20 years.

It’s clear that immigration reform fits squarely in the President’s agenda to make sure that policymakers in Washington do everything they can to build a better bargain for the middle class, growing our economy in a way that ensures that we all benefit.

And it’s also clear that immigration reform has something to offer to everyone; immigrants and native-born alike. When GDP grows by more than $1 trillion, when wages go up – that’s about all of us. Immigration reform is something we can’t afford to leave undone.

That’s important to remember because, as a Latina, I am very aware that the immigration issue is very closely associated with my community. I know that others, including people from other immigrant groups, sometimes wonder if this is an issue that affects them.  

This week, the White House released fact sheets on the benefits of the Senate immigration bill on diverse communities, including immigrants who are African, Asian American, Latino and women.  You can find other materials on the economic benefits of immigration reform on the White House web site.

As the President continues his work to ensure that we grow the economy in a way that strengthens the middle class and builds ladders of opportunity for those still working to enter it, it’s vital that Congress do its part to make sure that we do what’s within our reach that meets these important goals. Immigration reform is one of the most vital—it has bipartisan support all around the country—and the strong vote in the Senate puts it within our grasp. As we wrap up a week in which we commemorate the progress of the last 50 years let’s rededicate ourselves to the work ahead.  When Congress returns, I look forward to making common sense immigration reform a reality.

Get the fact sheets on the benefits of commonsense immigration reform:

White House White Board: Why Immigration Reform Is Good for the Economy

For more information:

Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council
Related Topics: Immigration