Open the Door and Let 'Em In

The opponents of immigration reform are hampering the economy--and hurting all of us

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Meanwhile, LEGALIZATION WOULD HELP BOLSTER PUBLIC FINANCES. In a May 8 letter to Senator Marco Rubio outlining the possible effects of the immigration-reform bill, Stephen Coss, chief actuary at the Social Security Administration, wrote, "We estimate a significant increase in both the population and the number of workers paying taxes in the United States as a result of these changes in legal immigration limits." Immigration reform would increase Social Security revenue by $300 billion over 10 years. The CBO forecasts that it would also reduce the federal deficit by $685 billion over the same time period. And the liberal think tank Center for American Progress estimates that legalizing the 11 million undocumented workers living in the U.S. would add $1.5 trillion to the economy over 10 years.

Plus, immigrants punch above their weight in growth creation. They are more than twice as likely to start businesses as their native-born counterparts. They are responsible for over a quarter of all new business formation--and new businesses have been the only source of net job creation in this country for the past 30 years. What's more, IMMIGRANTS TEND TO LAUNCH THEIR VENTURES IN PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT AREAS; they have founded a disproportionate number of export businesses, which tend to create more and higher-paying jobs, and often locate their firms in economically beleaguered areas, where new jobs are needed the most.

Aside from all these benefits--and I could go on--there's the chutzpah effect. Immigrants are people who risk everything to make perilous journeys to support their families. They take two-hour bus trips to work 12-hour days doing menial labor for low wages. They study and work tirelessly to vault themselves and their families from working to middle class in a generation, as my father did. If we don't want to make it easier for them to join our society, then what kind of society are we?

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