Depending on the survey, there are between 1 to 2 million undocumented children and young adults in the U.S. who came to this country with their parents. Many of them have either graduated or will graduate from high school without the ability to attend college or getting a well-paid working position until August 15th when the Department of Homeland Security begins accepting applications.
Many Americans fear that these future legalized immigrants will take positions away from American-born workers. That is the wrong way to view it. Without work authorization, these undocumented youths would continue to work at low cash paying jobs for which, in some cases, they don’t claim taxes.
So what would be better? Having undocumented workers who don’t contribute taxes or, having young people become eligible for a social security card, work permit, and driver’s license for approximately 2 years or maybe longer? With proper documentation and an experienced immigration attorney, some of these young people who graduate at the top of their class have the potential of becoming doctors, nurses, teachers, and entrepreneurs. They can be in vocations or have businesses that contribute to our economy in a higher tax bracket. As their spending increases, the cost of public health and benefits to support will decline. Studies have shown that college graduates earn more than high school graduates. The U.S. Department of Labor found that immigrants who became legal in 1986 moved on to better paying jobs.
How else will America benefit? Researchers who have studied the impact of legalization found long-term improvements on immigrants, who became legal because they were allowed to open bank accounts, invest in higher education, buy houses, and start businesses. Legalization will not jeopardize anyone’s job. In fact, it will add value to others who are employed in places such as food stores, restaurants, clothing stores, appliance stores and car dealerships. Further evidence of growth is that immigrants are more likely to start a business than native-born Americans and, those who obtain advanced degrees, file patents which enhance job creations and increase innovation for all Americans.
Deferred Action will reduce the drop-out rate of undocumented students from who, like their parents, work illegally and thus continue the cycle. The Deferred Action initiative will encourage students to remain in school until graduation and pursue a career, rather than a job, in positions that are currently in demand. These positions require at least some college, so universities will also benefit from an influx of students who, in the past, were ineligible to attend.
Even though Deferred Action is temporary, we hope it is the first step toward legal recognition. It’s a step in an economically upward direction of progress and wealth. Legalization will increase these immigrants income, income tax, and spending. When given the prospect for personal improvement, historically, immigrants thrive and create more opportunities for others, continuing the cycle of prosperity in our country.