The proposed Senate bill that would legalize almost 11 million undocumented aliens would help shrink the federal deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO reports that if the bill was signed into law, the federal deficit would be reduced by $197 billion in the first decade and $700 billion in the next decade. These estimates by the CBO are expected to bolster chances that the Senate bill will pass.
As an immigration lawyer in Texas, I recognize that there are considerable costs, benefits and risks to legalizing millions of undocumented aliens, but I believe that one of the most important arguments in favor of an immigration overhaul is the financial contributions this important community can make to the economy. Most of the undocumented immigrants who come to U.S. are eager to become productive members of American society.
The report by the CBO has met with bipartisan support, although there are some Senators who have picked up on the most troubling disadvantages of legalizing immigrants. The report states that wages for all American workers would fall by 0.1 percent in the first decade, but wages would actually increase by half a percent by the close of the second decade. The study found that between 100,000 and 200,000 more people would receive unemployment benefits in the first decade, leading to almost $5.1 billion in costs. The federal government would pay almost $262 billion in health care payments and tax credits in the first decade, but this would be easily recouped by $459 billion in taxes paid by newly legalized individuals. There are also estimates that unemployment would rise initially.
The most troubling feature of the CBO report was the finding that illegal immigration would decline by only 25 percent if the bill was enacted. The Senate bill calls for $6.5 billion in greater security at the southern U.S. border which would include more fencing and 3,500 more Border Agents. Border security has been a major point of contention among legislators who are eager to push through immigration reform but are resistant to continued illegal immigration. Three amendments by conservative lawmakers that would institute even stricter border security measures have already failed to collect enough votes to earn addition to the bill, but this new study may revive such attempts.
The economic benefits of legalizing immigrants have been supported by a number of studies. A study by UCLA found that legalization would produce $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product over ten years. This study was based in part on the economic benefits that resulted from the last immigration overhaul in 1986.
As an experienced immigration lawyer, I am hopeful that both sides of this debate will be able to compromise and produce a reform package that will benefit the immigrant community and the country. History has shown that America is dependent upon immigrants to help strengthen a wide variety of industries and empower the country so that it can remain a global economic leader. If you or someone you know would like to discuss immigration reform, our office is always available to schedule private consultations at (512) 215-5225.