UCLA researchers said this week that President Obama's widely expected initiative to expand amnesty for those in the United States illegally is good for the pocketbooks of Americans.

The UCLA North American Integration and Development Center (NAID) says in a summary of its new report, “From the Shadows to the Mainstream,” that “all scenarios for increasing the scope of potential beneficiaries would generate significant economic growth, benefiting not only immigrants, but also the U.S. economy as a whole.”

Obama's executive action on immigration is expected to provide some legal protection for as many as 5 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.


The president is scheduled to reveal his plans in a national address at 5 p.m. PST today.

Despite years' worth of promises by Republican leaders in Congress to address the thorny issue of illegal immigration and the underground status of a class of people who provide integral work inside our borders, reform efforts have been blocked repeatedly by the most conservative faction of the GOP.

Still, Republic leaders in Congress are livid at Obama's attempt to subvert them and enact immigration reform—long his number one debt to loyal Latino voters—on his own.

“Obama's threatened move … is directly contrary to Congress's decision not to pass an amnesty,” says the conservative Center for Immigration Studies. ” … Obama's planned amnesty decree is Caesarism, pure and simple.”

While many Latinos see Republican opposition to immigration reform as an expression of white fear over the browning of America, conservatives argue that rewarding illegal action erodes our rule of law and sends a message that there's no downside to coming here without permission.

Credit: Pete Souza for the White House

Credit: Pete Souza for the White House

UCLA's report, however, follows the money, a powerful magnet not only for the undocumented, but for those who hire them, which is perhaps why Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan essentially enacted executive amnesty measures of the own.

The moves were arguably pro-business.

The money quote of UCLA's report, authored by the NAID Center's founder, Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, says that amnesty of the kind expected from President Obama would be officially worth an estimated $210 billion to the economy:

If deferred action were extended to the 3.7 million undocumented immigrants who are parents or legal guardians of minors that are U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (LPRs), or are DACA eligible, it would generate a short term $6.8 billion increase in labor income, more than 160,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in new tax revenue. It would also formalize the $210.2 billion in value that this population adds to the economy, thus ending the technical illegality of their employment and production.

The president is expected to formalize his action Friday in Las Vegas, according to the White House:

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill more than 500 days ago, and while the country waits for House Republicans to vote, the President will act — like the Presidents before him — to fix our immigration system in the ways that he can. 

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