May 12, 2021 - Axios Events

Sen. Alex Padilla: Pathway to citizenship leads to "economic boost" for the U.S.

Screenshot of an Axios event with Axios' Russell Contreras (on the left) and California Sen. Alex Padilla (on the right)

Axios screenshot

Granting immigrants a pathway to citizenship will lead to an "economic boost" for the U.S., Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) said in an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Democrats hope to get 10 Republican senators to back legislation that recently passed the House that would provide a path to citizenship. Touting the economic benefits of immigration reform could boost their argument.

  • "Immigration fuels the economy. When immigrants enter the labor force, they increase the productive capacity of the economy and raise GDP. Their incomes rise, but so do those of natives. It’s a phenomenon dubbed the 'immigration surplus,'" the George W. Bush Institute writes.

What he's saying: "I think it is a moral and just as imperative for immigrants that have been here, particularly the undocumented that have been here, working here, paying taxes here, they deserve security and a pathway to citizenship," Padilla said.

  • "When immigrants, naturalized, become citizens, it leads to an economic boost for them and their families and for our nation as a whole," he added.
  • Padilla said that "more than five million essential workers in health care and construction and transportation and agriculture and food processing and more are not just immigrants, but undocumented immigrants."

The other side: Former President Trump said in 2016, while accepting the Republican presidential nomination, that "decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers."

  • Consider this: A study by the Department of Labor done by the Bush administration clarified that the myth around immigrants taking jobs away from Americans is "the most persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought," per the ACLU.

Worth noting: Padilla in February introduced a legislation that would give undocumented immigrants who are essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic a pathway to citizenship.

Watch the full event here.

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