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Idea of the Day: Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants Has Economic Benefits

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The movement toward comprehensive immigration reform has accelerated significantly in recent months. A bipartisan “Gang of 8” in the Senate—a group of four Democratic senators and four Republican senators—released a framework for immigration reform on January 28, and the next day President Barack Obama gave a speech launching White House efforts to push for immigration reform. Both proposals contained strong language regarding the need to provide legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, as well as a road map to full citizenship.

Some lawmakers, however, do not want to extend legal status—let alone citizenship—to the unauthorized. Others have expressed interest in stopping just short of providing full citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, instead calling for a so-called middle-ground option—to leave undocumented immigrants in a permanent subcitizen status. To be sure, the debate over immigration reform has important legal, moral, social, and political dimensions. Providing or denying legal status or citizenship to the undocumented has implications for getting immigrants in compliance with the law, affects whether or not immigrant families can stay in their country of choice, and determines whether they have the opportunity to become full and equal members of American society. But legal status and citizenship are also about the economic health of the nation as a whole.

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

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

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

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

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@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