How A Path To Citizenship For Undocumented Immigrants Would Boost The American Economy

As Congress continues to piece together comprehensive immigration reform legislation, a new study from the Center for American Progress asserts that legal status and a path to citizenship for America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants would provide substantial boosts to the nation’s economy in the immediate future.

The study from Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford examined three immigration reform scenarios: immediate legal status and citizenship, immediate legal status and a path to citizenship within five years, and legal status but no path to citizenship. The first scenario, immediate citizenship, would provide the largest economic boost, adding $1.4 trillion to economic growth, a $791 billion increase to Americans’ personal incomes, and 203,000 jobs over the next decade. It would also boost incomes of undocumented workers by $691 billion over the next decade, adding $184 billion in tax revenues to state and federal coffers.

Even under the second scenario — immediate legal status and a path to citizenship within five years — the benefits would be large, and though there are still benefits to reform without a path to citizenship, they are significantly smaller than the benefits from the other scenarios:

“These immigration reform scenarios illustrate that unauthorized immigrants are currently earning far less than their potential, paying much less in taxes, and contributing significantly less to the U.S. economy than they potentially could,” Lynch and Oakford wrote in the study. But the study also makes it clear that the benefits of immigration reform and a path to citizenship aren’t restricted to undocumented immigrants — they extend to American workers as well.


Other studies have shown that immigration reform would have positive effects on jobs and economic growth, wages for both immigrants and American workers alike, the creation of new businesses, and growth for state economies.