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Weighing the economic benefits of immigration reform

Aside from being, as David Brooks of the New York Times puts it, "a great victory for human dignity," meaningful immigration reform makes excellent economic sense for native-born Americans and immigrants alike. Let's look at some overwhelming evidence.

A study conducted by an Agnes Scott College economics professor shows that an additional 262 jobs for native-born Americans are associated with every additional 100 jobs given to immigrants in the fields of science and technology. In this particular area, the idea that immigrants threaten the employment of U.S. natives is dispelled.

The study also indicates that the labor of immigrants generally lowers the cost of child care, food and homes, and also allows more women to seek employment outside the home. In short, the general standard of living for Americans is raised.

According to research by The Hamilton Project, there is also a 30-percent greater chance of immigrants starting new businesses than U.S.-born citizens starting new businesses. Immigrants also tend to earn more patents. All of this points to the boost immigrants give to the U.S. economy.

And with all of the talk about taxes and budget cuts, we should consider this information from the Congressional Budget Office. To give undocumented immigrants an easier path to citizenship could result in $48 billion in more tax revenue. Weigh that against the $23 billion undocumented immigrants use in public services, and there is a $25 billion surplus.

Of course, we can discuss all day the widespread economic benefits of immigration reform, but it's also important to consider the positive impact such reform would have on American values. Hard-working, good people who want to follow the path to U.S. citizenship should be able to do so in their pursuit of happiness, and allowing immigrants an easier road would do wonders for the American conscience.

Source: The New York Times, "The Easy Problem," David Brooks, Jan. 31, 2013

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