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How Immigration Reform Benefits Social Security

Legalizing the undocumented immigrant population would increase productivity, wages, and tax revenue and create new jobs.

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On May 21, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” by a vote of 13 to 5. In addition to strengthening our border and creating a sensible plan for future immigration, the bill enables the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States to earn citizenship over time. Legalizing the undocumented population would lead to significant economic gains for all Americans by increasing productivity, wages, and tax revenue and by supporting the creation of new jobs through the growth in consumption and business creation.

A new CAP issue brief analyzes the impact on the Social Security system of legalizing the undocumented population. Despite the wide body of research that details the economic gains that come with immigration reform, some lawmakers still question the long-term impact of earned legalization on social programs such as Social Security. Bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allowing them to participate fully in our economy and society will further strengthen many of our country’s social services, both in the immediate future and in the long run. The findings from this brief are clear: If undocumented immigrants acquire legal status and citizenship, they will contribute far more to the Social Security system than they will take out and will strengthen the solvency of Social Security over the next 36 years.

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