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RELEASE: The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants

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Contact: Crystal Patterson
Phone: 202.478.6350

Washington, D.C. — 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, 2013, 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, calling instead for a so-called middle-ground option—to leave undocumented immigrants in a permanent subcitizen status.

As today’s new Center for American Progress report “The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants” explains, legal status and a road map to citizenship for the unauthorized will bring about significant economic gains in terms of growth, earnings, tax revenues, and jobs—all of which will not occur in the absence of immigration reform or with reform that creates a permanent subcitizen class of residents. The report also shows that the timing of reform matters: The sooner we provide legal status and citizenship, the greater the economic benefits will be for the nation.

A companion analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, “Legal Status for Undocumented Workers Is Good for American Workers,” examines whether the gains for newly documented immigrants will come at the expense of native-born American workers. A review of economic research finds these fears to be unfounded. Contrary to common fears, immigrants are not frequently in direct competition with native-born American workers, in part because they tend to have different skill sets. The research shows that American workers are not harmed by—and may even benefit from immigration—because immigrants tend to be complementary workers who help make Americans more productive.

Read the full report: The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants by Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford

Read CAP Action’s Issue Brief: Legal Status for Undocumented Workers Is Good for American Workers by David Madland and Nick Bunker

To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Crystal Patterson at 202.478.6350 or

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

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