Sep 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

First look: Biden's economic case for green cards

U.S President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) is promoting the economic benefits and costs of providing green cards to millions of unauthorized immigrants in a blog post being released on Friday, according to a draft provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The post comes as the fate of millions of immigrants, including those with Temporary Protected Status or DACA protections, rests with Congress — and the Senate parliamentarian.

  • Any day, the Senate parliamentarian will decide on whether pathways to citizenship for certain undocumented populations can be included in Democrats' reconciliation bill — which would mean it only needs 50 Senate votes to pass.
  • The decision hinges on whether the changes to immigration laws sufficiently impact federal costs and revenues. CEA Chair Cecilia Rouse and advisers Lisa Barrow, Kevin Rinz and Evan Soltas argue they would.

What they're saying: The advisers acknowledge that legalizing undocumented immigrants would raise the cost of social benefit programs, as some immigrants may feel comfortable using benefits they are already eligible for and other would become eligible for benefits. The cost "could be significant."

  • But much of that cost could be paid by the increased taxes immigrants would pay — and then the "positive fiscal contributions" of the next generation, they argue.
  • Legalizing immigrants would also "likely raise tax revenues, increase productivity, and have additional benefits for the children of these immigrants, generating substantial economic value for the country," they write.
  • The post includes data and studies that suggest providing undocumented immigrants with legal permanent residence would allow them to apply for jobs that better suit their skill sets, raise their wages and lead to improved their language skills, education and health.
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