Analysis: What Is the Economic Impact of Immigration Reform?

In this case there is no projection about how legalization would affect the GDP, but Hill thinks that if researchers did make a prediction, the results would still be much different than the first report. "I do think that if you plugged our numbers into Hinojosa model, you're not going to get the number he did, it's not possible."

Verdict: Not conclusive. The data set looks at workers in a scenario that's significantly different from mass legalization. And the short time period raises questions about whether the study can accurately project the impact of reform.

The report has value in that it suggest that the economic impact of reform might be muted among certain sectors of workers. For example, it shows that for those already on a path to legalization, getting legal status had little impact on wage growth, at least over a short period of time.

Takeaways:

Predicting economic scenarios 10 years down the road is a science, but estimates can vary. Researchers need to make some assumptions along the way, like whether a legalization program today would have the same effects as a legalization program did 25 years ago. And there's limited data on what happens when undocumented workers are given legal status. For that, you have to turn back the clock to 1986.

However, of nine economists and policy experts consulted by ABC/Univision, the majority found that a mass legalization program would have an overall positive impact on the economy.

That includes John Feinblatt, the chief policy advisor for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose Partnership for a New American Economy has done it's own body of research on the impact of reform.

"There's a pretty straightforward explanation for this," Feinblatt, said. "The act of immigration itself is an entrepreneurial act. Picking up your things, leaving your relatives behind and coming to a new country is about wanting something better for yourself."

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