Legalization of Undocumented Students Would Have Economic Benefits, Group Claims

(Photo: DreamActivist/Flickr)

(Photo: DreamActivist/Flickr)

The Dream Act, a proposal to legalize undocumented students who entered the U.S. as children, would have direct economic benefits that would “boost the American middle class,” according to a new analysis by a progressive think thank.

The bill, introduced in both houses of Congress last year, would allow immigrant students “to contribute more to the economic prosperity necessary to sustain a strong middle class,” wrote Cristina Jimenez, an immigration policy consultant for the Drum Major Institute, which published the report.

The Dream Act would put some undocumented students on a path to legal residency if they finish high school and attend college or join the military.

This, according to Jimenez, would enable the students to “get higher paying jobs and as a result pay more in taxes.

“A 30 year-old Mexican immigrant woman with a college degree will pay $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses each year compared to a high school dropout with similar characteristics, according to the RAND Corporation.”

Another effect the bill would have, according to the study, would be to bring undocumented immigrants out of the underground economy on which they depend for work, goods and services.

“Research suggests that unauthorized immigrant workers routinely face violations of minimum wage, overtime and workplace safety laws – and that the exploitation of immigrants goes hand-in-hand with an atmosphere in which citizens are also taken advantage of on the job,” Jimenez wrote.

The students’ integration in the mainstream American economy would also help bridge the gap their families face in this regard, the study said.

“The students affected by the legislation grew up in the United States, attended our schools, speak English, adopted American values and traditions, and know this country as their home. They often have siblings and other close relatives who are U.S. citizens. Continuing to marginalize these deeply rooted young people cuts a permanent segment of our population off from the American Dream.”

Students who are pushing for passage of the legislation last week held a series of nationwide events to promote their cause.

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