“Most undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for decades. Many have U.S.-citizen children. They fill an important role in our economy, representing around 4.6% of the labor force. These people 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 those who have waited years for their green card applications to be approved.
The solution for the undocumented must be in the rational middle ground between mass deportation and amnesty. Congress’s continued failure to advance legislation tacitly endorses this unworkable status quo….
Providing a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented population, and a special pathway for Dreamers, is both practical and good policy. It’s unreasonable to deport millions of people who are working, contributing, and positively impacting our communities. It’s also expensive. A 2015 analysis by the American Action Forum found that fully enforcing current immigration law — detaining and deporting every undocumented immigrant in the United States and preventing any new unlawful immigration — would cost $400 billion to $600 billion, decrease GDP by almost $1 trillion, contract the economy by 6%, and take 20 years to accomplish.
In addition to the practical considerations, we must consider the larger policy implications of having millions of people who cannot, under our current laws, ever hope to be full participants in American civic life. It is a good thing to have all residents of a country as involved as possible. A democracy with more engaged participants can better reflect the will of its citizens. Active participation strengthens institutions, and a more engaged citizenry is better able to hold its democratically elected representatives to account.”-
Laura Collins, “Solutions for Undocumented Immigrants,” bushcenter.org, Jan. 19, 2021