After over 70% of Latinos voted to reelect Barack Obama into office on November 6th, 2012, the President made immigration policy a top priority on his list of objectives for his second term. Therefore, it is important that we take a close look at the financial effects of passing immigration reform in the United States, given the current economic state of the nation. Many of the Latinos who voted for Obama in the past election did so with the hopes of seeing him pass a comprehensive immigration reform that includes some version of a legalization program. With an increasing national deficit and the existing high unemployment rates, the process of passing such a piece of legislation is sure to spark much controversy among nativists and immigration supporters.
Contrary to the nativist attitude on the legalization of undocumented immigrants, which claims that it would lead to more competition and decrease job opportunities for U.S. citizens, there is much research that proves that such a reform would actually benefit the country. According to Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda who conducted a study in 2010 using a model based on the outcomes of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, the implementation of a similar comprehensive reform act that includes the legalization of immigrants would “stimulate the U.S. economy” and “increases all workers’ wages.” He also finds that the opposite approach, which may include mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, would actually be more costly, would lower wages for workers, and ultimately harm the economy (Immigration Policy Center).
Another study also directed in 2010 by the Research and Development organization (RAND) articulates the concern of how legalization will help boost the economy and relieve the impact of poverty within the undocumented immigrant community. “Illegal status generates barriers that constrain the choices of both workers and employers,” states RAND. “In this sense, legalization could be interpreted as a removal of such barriers, which could potentially improve… the overall efficiency of the labor market” (Huff Post Latino Voices). This statement offers a perspective that allows us to understand that the authorization at hand has the potential to set off a series of positive impacts, beginning with removing immigrants’ main impediment for lifting themselves out of poverty.
Needless to say, despite the opposing claims to the legalization of immigrants, it is evident that most of the research serves to prove that a comprehensive approach to reforming the immigration system in the U.S. could greatly lead to a better economy, increase wages, and lessen the effects of poverty. Ultimately, the nation would benefit and prosper from the decision to give current undocumented immigrants legal residence.