If by allowing undocumented immigrants benefits the economy, how can we maximize that benefit?
Pieter Bevelander and Don J. DeVoretz in their report, The Economic Case for a Clear, Quick Pathway to Citizenship, argue Congress should:
- Make the path to Citizenship as clear as possible; and
- Avoid lengthy delay to achieving Citizenship.
The more complicated the path to Citizenship and the longer it takes, the fewer immigrants will avail themselves of it. Also, the longer it takes them to go through the process the fewer the years they will have to work for the higher wages as naturalized citizens. The fewer the years, the less likely immigrants and employers both will invest in training and skills. Also, the best and brightest immigrants may leave for more welcoming countries.
If the goal is to maximize the economic benefits from immigration reform, there must be a path to Citizenship. That path must encourage the greatest number of people to naturalize to American can reap the greatest benefit. A path to Citizenship that few use, benefits no one.
The authors find that five years is an optimal wait for citizenship. Although the Republicans in the House of Representatives have only presented their principles (LINK), the Senate’s S.744 (Link) has a minimum of 13 year path. This realistically will be closer to 15 by the time immigration reviews and approves each of the three different stages of the process. It also has fines of over $2000.00 not including the application fees. The long wait plus the high costs will result in less than optimal benefits to the economy.
It is in our interest for Congress to include a path to Citizenship in any immigration reform effort and find ways to make it more attainable, not less.