Behind the Smoke: What Immigration Reform Really Means

As commonsense immigration reform moves through the U.S. Senate, people and groups on the losing side of the debate are making outrageous claims in bogus studies and TV commercials. Let’s take a minute and revisit some of the facts about immigration reform.

Immigration reform with a path to citizenship and workplace rights doesn’t just benefit aspiring citizens and their families. It's good for all workers. Earlier this year, we published a 10-point checklist showing how all workers will benefit from fixing our broken immigration system. Here are just a few. 

Wages will rise for both immigrant and native workers.

In Immigration for Shared Prosperity, former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall writes that studies show immigration reform with a path to citizenship can raise wages for immigrant workers by 6%. Also, the study Raising the Floor for American Workers reports that under a path to citizenship, “The wage floor rises for all workers—particularly in industries where large numbers of easily exploited low-wage [aspiring Americans] currently work.”

More jobs will be created.

The higher earning power of aspiring citizens in just the first three years of comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship would generate up to $36 billion in net personal income and enough consumer spending to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs, according to the study Raising the Floor for American Workers.  

The billions of dollars a year in wage theft for both aspiring citizens and native workers will be significantly reduced. 

In New York, Los Angeles and Chicago alone, low-wage workers in immigrant-dense industries lose about $56 million a week in wage theft, according to the study Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, which notes that the abuses are not limited to aspiring Americans. “The best inoculation against workplace violations [wage theft] is ensuring workers know their rights and have full status under the law to assert them.”

Workers’ rights—including the right to join a union—will be strengthened.

Today, writes Marshall, unscrupulous employers threaten workers with retaliation, “when workers attempt to organize a union, file wage claims or exercise other workplace rights.” Immigration reform with a path to citizenship that guarantees workplace rights for aspiring citizens will lessen the threat of employer retaliation and allow workers to defend their rights. Read the entire article.

A myriad of myths of about immigration reform—mostly generated by anti-immigrant groups and politicians—are swirling around the debate. Click here for the Seven Immigration Myths and Facts. Below is an important one to keep in mind next time you hear or see some outlandish claim about immigration reform.

Myth: Anti-immigrant politicians have the best interests of America's workers in mind.

Fact: The most rabidly anti-immigrant politicians in U.S. politics are also some of the most anti-worker politicians in the country. Many such politicians have skillfully diverted attention from their anti-worker agenda by drumming up anti-immigrant anxiety and fear in their constituents.

Despite efforts to couch their anti-immigrant policies in populist, pro-worker rhetoric, the truth is that many of the politicians who are the greatest opponents of immigrant workers are the greatest opponents of U.S.-born workers as well.