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Pathway to Citizenship Pays Dividends for Immigrants and the Economy

A new study shows that an immigration process with a pathway to citizenship—the centerpiece of the AFL-CIO’s immigration reform campaign—not only increases wages for aspiring citizens, but sows economic benefits throughout the entire economy.

Citizen Gain: The Economic Benefits of Naturalization for Immigrants and the Economy” finds that “citizenship brings many benefits to immigrants, the opportunity to participate more fully in our democracy through the right to vote being primary among them."

But beyond the clear civic gain is an often overlooked economic benefit: for a variety of reasons, naturalized immigrants are likely to see a boost in their family incomes that can benefit their children, their communities and the nation as a whole.  

The report by the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) uses information from the 2010 U.S. Census and the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics and other information and finds that if immigrants who are currently eligible to become naturalized citizens apply and achieve citizenship, their earnings would increase by 8 to 11 percent and up to $45 billion over 10 years. In addition:

The impact on GDP [Gross Domestic Product] GDP can be even larger once we take into account the secondary effects of higher incomes on spending and demand.

While the study examined immigrants who are documented, the authors suggest the economic impact of providing a path to citizenship for aspiring citizens would be similar.

You can read the full report and read our recent “10 Reasons All Workers Benefit from Fixing the Immigration System.”   

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