Top Pro & Con Arguments
Undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for years, paying taxes and contributing positively to the country, and therefore deserve a path to citizenship.
Undocumented immigrants “are our friends, neighbors, relatives, and colleagues — it is in America’s interest to find a reasonable solution for this population. An earned pathway to citizenship, with restitution, allows them to fully assimilate and integrate into the United States without being unfair” to others, argued Laura Collins, Director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.
These undocumented immigrants and their families are already engrained in our country. According to a 2021 George W. Bush Presidential Center white paper, approximately two-thirds of them have been in the US for over a decade. 1.6 million were married to US citizens in 2018 and 675,000 were married to lawful permanent residents. 4.4 million American children citizens and another 100,000 lawful permanent resident or nonimmigrant children had at least one undocumented parent.
95.8% of undocumented immigrants were employed in 2018, contributing a total of $20.1 billion in federal income taxes and $11.8 billion in state and local taxes. In doing so, they created a $100 billion surplus in the Social Security program between 2004 and 2014 and a $35.1 billion surplus in the Medicare Trust Fund between 2000 and 2011. In other words, though they created these surpluses for the country through the automatic payroll taxes they pay they still were denied the benefits that other taxpayers receive.
According to the Center for American Progress, a five-year path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants would offer significant results after five years: 32.4% ($14,000) increase in annual wages for undocumented workers, 1.1% ($700) increase in all other workers’ annual wages, 438,800 new jobs, and a $1.7 trillion increase in the total cumulative GDP (gross domestic product).
As economics professor Giovanni Peri and doctoral student Reem Zaiour of have argued, “Undocumented immigrants have long been essential to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity. As the country battled the coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout over the past year, the role of undocumented immigrants… [ensured] the well-being and safety of all Americans… Nearly 3 in 4 undocumented individuals in the workforce—an estimated 5 million—are essential workers. At great risk to themselves and their families, these individuals keep food supply chains running; care for patients in hospitals and support medical systems; maintain the country’s roads and buildings; provide critical care and services for children and the elderly; and educate future generations of Americans. All are critical members of the human infrastructure that powers the nation each day…. [L]egalization and a pathway to citizenship would provide the necessary relief and security for undocumented families and would bring a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy.”Read More