Beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant certain undocumented students and military service members permanent residency in the U.S. and provide a path to citizenship, could contribute trillions to the nation's economy over the next four decades, according to a new study by researchers at UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center.
The study estimates that if 825,000 undocumented youths obtain legal status under the legislation, they would generate $1.4 trillion in income over a 40-year period. If 2.1 million undocumented immigrants become legalized, they would contribute $3.6 trillion in income to the economy over the same period.
"No DREAMers Left Behind: The Economic Potential of DREAM Act Beneficiaries" uses data from an earlier report by the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute, which estimated that 825,000 undocumented youths were very likely to meet all the bill's requirements, which include stipulations that undocumented immigrants must have attended college or served in the military for a minimum of two years while maintaining good moral character.
Two million undocumented immigrants who are between the ages of 18 and 34 could eventually become eligible for the DREAM Act.
"This analysis shows that it is clearly in the nation's interest to enhance the possibilities that as many youth as possible take advantage of the DREAM Act and thus increase the potential benefit to the overall economy," the study's authors write.
"DREAMers make up a highly educated and potentially high-income earning group that can contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy across diverse industries," they add.
The report was authored by Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, the center's director and an associate professor of Chicano studies at UCLA; Paule Cruz Takash, the center's research director; and a group of undergraduate students and one alumna.
The full study can be found at