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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: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or lbartolomeo@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Talk Poverty, faith)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Print: Elise Shulman (oceans)
202.796.9705 or eshulman@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or jmolina@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