Opinion: A path to citizenship could create 400,000 new jobs, but only if Congress acts

Even before the coronavirus crisis, the United States suffered decades of slow economic growth, fueled in part by growing inequality.

But our past doesn’t have to be our future. Just last week, Congress took a monumental step to chart a new course for the country and create a new era of shared prosperity and robust economic growth, as the Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and EMPLOYMENT Act along with a plan $ 3.5 billion budget to enact the law. the president’s agenda Build Back Better.

Address the causes of inequality, stagnation

Together, these plans address some of our nation’s most important sources of stagnant growth and inequality by creating good union jobs to repair our crumbling infrastructure, ensuring access to paid family leave, and fixing the tax code so that millionaires and billionaires finally pay their fair share.


A reconciliation bill, which can be passed with a simple majority of votes, is needed to advance the administration’s vision of an economic recovery that is fair, robust and equitable.

Notably, and sensibly, the proposed budget framework that was approved by the Senate also included $ 107 billion dollars in funding for immigration initiatives, including creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, an important economic policy that is essential to America’s economic growth and recovery.

The momentum for a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, holders of Temporary Protected Status, and the millions of essential workers who have kept our country running during this pandemic, has been building, and while there are important implications moral and social to find a solution, immigration reform is also an economic imperative, because immigration reform is a policy of economic growth.

Providing a path to citizenship for dreamers, people eligible for temporary protected status, and essential undocumented workers would boost the gross domestic product of the US At a cumulative $ 1.5 trillion in 10 years, create more than 400,000 new jobs and would raise wages for all workers, certainly for those eligible, but also by an average of $ 600 for all other workers, according to A study by the Center for American Progress and the Davis Global Migration Center of the University of California.

Essential workers

Undocumented immigrants have long played an important role in boosting the United States economy, and this was especially true during the pandemic. Nearly three out of four undocumented workers, an estimated 5 million in total, served the country as essential workers on the front lines of the national response to the pandemic.

They are the healthcare workers and first responders who provide medical care, the farm workers who harvest the fields, the maintenance personnel who keep hospitals and schools sanitized, they are the personal and home health aides who take care of our loved ones, and construction workers who build and maintain critical infrastructure projects. They also play a vital role in the construction sector that we have to rebuild the roads and bridges of our country, more than one. of every 10 w of constructionorkers is undocumented.

Yet despite their great contributions to this country and its economy, undocumented workers remain in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to unleash their full potential as formal members of the American economy and society. A path to citizenship for undocumented workers would not only give families the certainty to stay together in the country they have long called home, but it would also boost our economy, create new jobs, and benefit all Americans.

Despite broad public support, bipartisan reform efforts and a path to citizenship have failed time and again, often due to the political intransigence of Congressional Republicans toward overwhelmingly popular solutions. It’s been more than 30 years since Congress last passed significant reforms to our nation’s immigration system, but Democratic lawmakers today have a unique opportunity to use the budget reconciliation process to enact these long-overdue protections. undocumented immigrants and their families.

Fair, robust, equitable

Including immigration-related provisions In their Build Back Better reconciliation package, Senate Democrats have a viable path to finally grant a path to citizenship for dreamers, holders of temporary protected status (TPS), farmworkers and essential undocumented workers. Following a recent negative court ruling Against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Congress already faces a growing urgency to enact permanent protections for the nation’s dreamers.

While a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure represents a critical step in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, a reconciliation bill, which can be passed by a simple majority vote, is needed to advance the administration’s vision for a economic recovery that is fair and robust. and equitable. Such a bill could substantially improve the lives of working families, particularly as the country seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread economic consequences.

But you can’t rebuild better without immigrants. As Congress and the Biden administration work together to address the coronavirus pandemic and work to build a just and equitable recovery, a path to citizenship through budget reconciliation is a unique tool that Congress can and should use.

Claudia Flores is the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy and Nicole Prchal Svajlenka is the Associate Director for Research for the Center for American Progress’s Immigration Policy Program..

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