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UCLA professor says comprehensive immigration reform would boost U.S. economy

Creating a pathway to legal status for an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants would benefit the U.S. economy and boost wages for all workers, according to a new report by Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, UCLA associate professor of Chicano and Chicana studies.
The Center for American Progress and Immigration Policy Center released the report today in Washington, D.C.
"Legalizing the nation's unauthorized workers and putting new legal limits on immigration that rise and fall with U.S. labor demand would help lay the foundation for robust, just, and widespread economic growth," Hinojosa-Ojeda writes in the report, "Raising the Floor for American Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform."
Comprehensive immigration reform would generate at least $1.5 trillion in additional gross domestic product over 10 years, the report states. Immigrant workers would have full labor rights, which would result in higher wages — and greater worker productivity — for all workers in industries where large numbers of immigrants are employed.
As part of the report, Hinojosa-Ojeda analyzed the historical experience of legalization under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which he said raised wages, created jobs and generated additional tax revenue.
"Even though IRCA was implemented during an economic recession characterized by high unemployment, it still helped raise wages and spurred increases in educational, home and small business investments by newly legalized immigrants," writes Hinojosa-Ojeda, who also directs the North American Integration and Development Center at UCLA.
He also estimated the economic benefits of two other possible scenarios for immigration reform: a program for temporary workers and mass deportation. He concluded that neither would benefit the economy as much as comprehensive immigration reform.
"Moving unauthorized workers out of a vulnerable underground status strengthens all working families' ability to become more productive and creates higher levels of job-generating consumption," he concluded.
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