ATLANTA - As Congress takes steps to address the country's broken immigration system, analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that the Senate's bipartisan solution would yield high returns for local and state economies.
The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) says increased tax contributions from "aspiring Americans" under the new law would add $2.3 billion to Georgia's budget over 10 years, making more resources available for schools, infrastructure, and local services.
"Clearly, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) score and the economic analysis on the Senate's bipartisan immigration reform legislation point towards reaching a solution which will benefit our state and our nation. We urge our U.S. Senators to get on board with the legislation," said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO.
The CBO reported Tuesday that the immigration bill would decrease federal red ink by $197 billion over a decade and $700 billion in the following 10 years as increased taxes paid to the government offset the cost of benefits for newly legal residents. (See separate story. First link below.)
But, one critic quickly seized on the impact on pay.
"It's going to raise unemployment and push down wages," said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.
Immigration reform that puts immigrants on a path to citizenship will strengthen the U.S. economy, Gonzalez asserted, by boosting wages and entrepreneurship, bringing more tax contributions and spending in small businesses in their local economies.
"We can't afford for our elected leaders to delay immigration reform any further when our communities need the increased revenue to improve our roads, our schools, and our public safety," Gonzalez added.
Enforcement-only policies are costly and inefficient, Gonzalez said, citing a study by the Immigration Policy Center, which shows that "a mass deportation and zero-immigration policy would decrease U.S. GDP by $2.6 trillion over 10 years."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)