A new report prepared for the Immigration Policy Center finds that illegal immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980s via the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) went on to earn substantial gains in their socioeconomic status. The report suggests that, contrary to the idea that legalizing immigrants will increase competition for scarce jobs in the U.S., legalization of many of the 11 million or so current undocumented immigrants would actually yield economic benefits, not only for the immigrants but for the U.S. economy as a whole.
Between 1990 and 2006, Mexican immigrants legalized under IRCA dramatically increased their education levels, reduced poverty rates and became more likely to buy their own homes. Real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance, the report finds.
Economic Progess via Legalization is one of three reports issued by the Immigration Policy Center today aimed at encouraging policymakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The other two look at the social and economic benefits of legalization, and at who should be allowed to benefit from an “earned legalization” program.