Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants as a Solution to Poverty

Photo Credit: Anuska Sampedro

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.

4 responses to “Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants as a Solution to Poverty

  1. I am so glad you brought up this point. I was having this conversation with my dad the other day, and we both agree that if President Obama passes an immigration reform the U.S would greatly benefit economically. I feel that people always look at the negative aspects of an immigration reform, but in reality the reform would boost the economy and many people would be able to move up the social ladder. I find it really interesting that there has been research done on the positive effect, but I hope that both political parties take into consideration these results and act immediately.

  2. Very true I just turned in an essay on undocumented immigrants in class n i wrote it in my blog as well supporting illegal immigration n I definitely hope the government at least helps undocumented student wanting to advance their education!

  3. Reblogged this on robertsjohnson and commented:
    Immigrants coming for a better life and to escape taxes built our country and for some reason our government over the years decided that these immigrants are illegal. I agree that by legalizing all illegal immigrants it would change the labor market but I’m not sure in what way. Some companies check to see if job applicants are legal which renders illegal’s from obtaining certain jobs. Legalizing illegal immigrants would decrease poverty in communities with large amounts of illegal’s because the job market wouldn’t restrict them from acquiring jobs. However, would this policy offset the amount of American citizens trying to get jobs? This externality comes with unemployment, which is a big issue when looking with our countries job market. Lastly, The Immigration Reform Control Act is out dated and a new immigration reform needs to start. I think doing something drastic, for example an extensive internal deportation wouldn’t end well with our economy in the short run the way it is. Mainly because the decrease in demand needed for businesses would decrease their revenues. Big issues like illegal immigration take time to solve but the government needs to start somewhere.

  4. I really like how you advocate for the other side of the argument. In your second paragraph, the idea of granting undocumented immigrants with citizenship as a means of erasing boundaries really resonated.

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