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Idea of the Day: Undocumented Immigrants Should Be Given a Path to Citizenship, Not Just Legal Status

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As the Obama administration and Congress gear up to fix our nation’s deeply flawed immigration system, the fight over immigration reform will revolve not simply around the question of what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, but how to resolve their status.

Over the past few months, a number of prominent senators such as Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) have floated the idea of offering permanent legal status for unauthorized immigrants living in the country with no direct path to citizenship as a “compromise” solution instead of full comprehensive immigration reform. By creating a permanent underclass with little chance of full integration into the nation, these proposals have rightly received strong backlash from advocacy groups such as United We Dream, elected officials such as San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Here we review the top five reasons why citizenship—not just legal status—is of critical importance to our society and to our economy.

  • Big gains to the economy.
  • Economic gains for the native born.
  • Certainty for both immigrants and employers.
  • A stronger, more integrated United States.
  • Forward, not backward, on equality.

For more on this topic, please see:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund, women's issues)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention, the National Security Agency)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (energy and environment, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here