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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Change in immigration policy could benefit Arizona

    On July 26, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, told a group of immigration activists at a town hall meeting that the House of Representatives would vote on a series of bills aimed at reforming America’s immigration system in October.

    Well, Halloween has come and passed, Thanksgiving is on its way and soon thereafter, Christmas will arrive. I will be genuinely impressed if immigration reform is passed before Target breaks out the Easter decorations.

    As the House waffles over how to approach immigration reform, it should consider the policies contained in the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented persons who were brought to the U.S. as children, have completed high school and have either served in the military or participated in some form of higher education.

    If opponents to the DREAM Act are not swayed by the idea that these young adults and children, who have spent a majority of their lives in America, should be offered the same rights and protections as individuals that come from a more privileged upbringing, then perhaps they can be persuaded by an economic argument.

    The Center for American Progress released a report detailing the impact that the DREAM Act could have on the economy. The report claims that in the 1990s, an influx of educated immigrants contributed between an increase of 1.4 and 2.4 percent to the nation’s GDP. Passage of the DREAM Act would almost certainly have a similar, if not more dramatic, effect.

    It is already projected to add $329 billion to the American economy as DREAMers enter the workforce. Additionally, the Center for American Progress found that passage of this bill or legislation similar to it could add 1.4 million new jobs to the economy.

    The study also dismissed the idea that immigrants compete with native-born Americans in the labor market.

    “Many economists find that immigrants tend to complement the skills of native workers rather than compete with them,” the report said. “Increasing the education of immigrant workers would therefore decrease the competition between DREAMers and the native-born.”

    This summer, the Senate passed the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.” Both Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake sat on the ad hoc “Gang of Eight” committee that drafted the legislation. The DREAM Act is incorporated in the bill, along with proposals for a total of 700 miles of border fencing and the deployment of an additional 19,200 Border Patrol agents.

    “The bill modernizes our legal immigration framework to address America’s future labor needs, while also allowing for more talent to remain in the U.S.,” Flake said in a press release.

    As Arizona has an estimated undocumented population of nearly 400,000, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the state could receive a large portion of this talent.
    As our economy adjusts to the demands of the 21st century, it is clear that an educated workforce is going to be a necessity. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that, beyond a simple undergraduate degree, there will be an increase in jobs requiring a masters degree or higher. In fact, with a projected growth of 21.7 percent, it is the fastest growing educational requirement for employment.

    An educated workforce is good for our economy, and we have an untapped population of workers who are motivated and excited to enter the job market. By casting them aside and further alienating DREAMers, we are not only devaluing their lives, we’re also devaluing our economy.

    It is not a conservative versus liberal issue; in fact, the DREAM Act was introduced by Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) in 2001. The U.S. should not cast aside an entire population based on a disagreement over principles. DREAMers can help us achieve economic stability with little sacrifice on our parts.

    As Arizonans, we are on the frontline of the debate, and we should demand that any comprehensive immigration reform to appear on the House floor contain a DREAM Act-like provision.

    Anthony Carli is a political science senior. Follow him @acarli10.

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