There's perennial talk of how illegal immigrants take jobs from American citizens and burden taxpayer-funded institutions like public hospitals and schools. But one UCLA professor says that's all wrong: Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, UCLA associate professor of Chicano studies, argues that legalizing the country's estimated 12 million undocumented workers would boost the U.S. economy by $1.5 trillion in the following 10 years.

He made the case this week in a report published by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress and Immigration Policy Center.

The professor looked at the benefits of the Reagan-era Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which opened the door for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to become legal, and juxtaposed those numbers on today's undocumented population.

“Even though IRCA was implemented during an economic recession characterized by high unemployment, it still helped raise wages and spurred increases in educational, home and small business investments by newly legalized immigrants,” writes Hinojosa-Ojeda.

He states that mass legalization “would help lay the foundation for robust, just, and widespread economic growth.”

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