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Report: Immigration Reform is Basic Economics for FL

April 14, 2009

Washington, D.C. – The dollars and cents of immigration reform make a lot of sense for the beleaguered U.S. economy. The net economic gain would be $66 billion in new state and federal revenue, according to a new report.

The review, from the nonpartisan Immigration Policy Center, notes that Florida is one of the states with the most to gain if undocumented workers were provided a pathway to legal status. About 500,000 immigrant workers would be affected.

Economist David Kallick with the Fiscal Policy Institute contributed to the study. Right now, he explains, those billions of dollars are lining the pockets of employers - who hire folks in the underground economy and avoid contributing to payroll and other taxes.

"The cost of the underground economy to taxpayers is pretty substantial. The idea is, bringing undocumented immigrants into the 'above-ground' economy and making sure that they pay taxes just like everyone else."

Critics of reform accuse undocumented workers of "stealing" American jobs; some want to deport everyone who is in the U.S. illegally. Kallick argues that immigrants do not steal good-paying jobs, and more legal workers in the labor pool will help grow the entire economy.

That's also the view of Esther Lopez, director of civil rights and community action for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union International. She says labor groups see that legalization is good for all workers, and she considers it an important step in rebuilding the middle class.

"We need an immigration system that is part of our national economic recovery program. We need immigration reform that punishes employers who 'game' the system to drive down wages and working conditions."

The document can be viewed online, at

Deb Courson, Public News Service - FL