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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/28/13

The Truth About Immigration Reform And The Economy

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Reprinted from Robert Reich

The battle over immigration reform is often about economic fear -- fear that immigrants are hurting the economy for native-born Americans. But that fear is based on several economic myths:

MYTH ONE: Immigration reform will strain already overburdened government safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Wrong.  

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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finds that immigration reform will actually reduce the budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Why is that? Because while they seek citizenship, undocumented workers will be required to pay into Social Security and Medicare even though they won't be eligible for them.

They're also younger on average than the typical worker, so even when they're citizens they'll be paying into Social Security and Medicare far longer.

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MYTH TWO: New immigrants take away jobs from native-born Americans. 

Wrong again. 

The economy doesn't contain a fixed number of jobs to be divided up among people who need them. As an economy grows, it creates more jobs. And what we've seen over the last 200 years is that new immigrants to America fuel that growth, and thereby create more jobs for everyone. 

We've also learned that new immigrants are by definition ambitious. They wouldn't have borne all the risks and hardships of immigrating to the United States if they weren't. And that ambition and hard work help the economy grow even faster.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that immigration reform will increase economic growth by more than 3 percent 10 years from now, 5 percent in 20 years.

Ambition also helps explain why the children of new immigrants earn more college degrees, on average, than the children of native-born.

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And why their incomes are higher than their parent's incomes.

All of which also helps grow the economy and create more jobs. 

MYTH THREE: We don't need new immigrants.

Wrong again.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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