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Idea of the Day: Granting Undocumented Immigrants a Pathway to Citizenship Will Have National and State-Level Economic Benefits

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On April 16, 2013, the Senate’s “Gang of 8”—a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators—filed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. At the core of the bill is a provision that will provide a pathway to earned legalization and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.

The pathway to citizenship for these aspiring Americans will be neither short nor easy. Under the provisions of the bill, most undocumented immigrants will have to wait 10 years before they can apply for legal permanent residency—a green card. In addition, most will not be eligible for citizenship until at least 13 years after the bill is enacted.

Despite this long process, there are significant economic benefits to the U.S. economy and to all Americans when unauthorized immigrants acquire provisional legal status. Prior research in a Center for American Progress report, “Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants,” showed that legalization and citizenship bring large economic benefits to the nation as a whole. But new CAP research shows that the economies of each state also stand to gain large benefits if immigrants are put on a path to legal status and citizenship.

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

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

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

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or


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

For more from the same column, click here