Center for American Progress

Legal Status for Undocumented Workers Is Good for American Workers
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Legal Status for Undocumented Workers Is Good for American Workers

Studies show that providing legal status to undocumented immigrants will increase wages for American workers.

Immigration reform activists hold a sign in front of Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, Monday, January 28, 2013. (AP/Alan Diaz)
Immigration reform activists hold a sign in front of Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, Monday, January 28, 2013. (AP/Alan Diaz)

See also: The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants by Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford

Read the full column (CAP Action)

new report by our colleagues at the Center for American Progress shows that creating a path for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and citizenship will lead to substantial wage gains for these workers. In turn, these wage gains will help spur the American economy and lead to significant increases in gross domestic product, tax revenue, and jobs in the coming years.

Some observers may worry that the gains for newly documented immigrants will come at the expense of native-born American workers. But our review of economic research finds these fears to be unfounded.

Studies of the last large-scale legalization effort in 1986 found that legalization did not reduce wages for native-born American workers and, in some cases, actually raised wages. More recent research on the effect of increases in immigration over the past few decades find little to no wage or employment effects, providing additional confirmation for the earlier legalization studies, as well as alleviating concerns about possible harm from future immigration.

Further, this body of research finds that those with low levels of education, as well as Americans of color, are also likely to be unharmed by immigration, though the research does suggest that the wages of other immigrants may be reduced.

Read the full column (CAP Action)

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Authors

David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Nick Bunker

Research Associate

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