Undocumented workers and those in favor of legalizing them received a dose of inspiring news when a pair of local economics professors announced the results of their recent study:

Legalizing illegal immigrants will significantly increase undocumented workers' wages.

But wait, that's not all.

It will also help the U.S. economy overall.

As for the wages, according to Fernando Lozano of Pomona College and Todd Sorensen of UC Riverside, granting legal status to the more than 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States would increase their average pay by 20 percent.

State the authors of the study, “Most of this effect can be attributed to immigrants switching into higher paying occupations after legalization, rather than receiving higher wages in the jobs they previously held.”

Lozano and Sorensen came to this conclusion, they say, by comparing the wages of immigrants who were eligible for legalization under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which allowed undocumented aliens who had been continuously in the country since 1982 to gain legal status, against those who came to the United States after the cutoff date.

But more money in workers' pockets is not the only plus of legalization, the professors profess.

“It's also important to note that the U.S. economy as a whole also benefits,” stated Sorensen, “given increases in economic efficiency.”

Lozano added that there are other unmeasurable benefits, as well, including the psychological relief of not “living in the shadows,” and the incentive to learn English.

“In the face of our inability to measure these unobserved benefits,” he stated, “our estimates represent a lower bound in the welfare of an immigrant due to legalization.”

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