What Media Should Know About The Anti-Immigrant Movement's Economic Attacks On Reform

Mainstream media outlets should be aware of damaging economic attacks leveled by anti-immigrant groups in an attempt to derail comprehensive immigration reform. In reality, research indicates that comprehensive immigration reform would improve the U.S. economy, create jobs and boost American wages. Moreover, new findings show that immigrants are less likely to rely on public benefits than native-born Americans.

Anti-Immigrant Groups Push Myth That Immigrants Hurt The Economy, Displace American Workers


NumbersUSA's Roy Beck Claimed Newly Legalized Immigrants Under Immigration Reform Would Prevent Americans From Finding Jobs. Discussing an immigration reform proposal that might include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, founder of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA Roy Beck wrote on the organization's website:

It would immediately put millions of illegal aliens in front of the employment line to hold or take U.S. jobs while 20 million Americans who want a full-time job can't find one. [NumbersUSA, 2/5/13]

Beck Claimed Immigration Reform Would Cost “Trillions” In Government Spending On Social Services. In noting one of the “hard truths” about the Senate's proposals for immigration reform, Beck claimed:

It would cost trillions of dollars in extra government spending on social services. [NumbersUSA, 2/5/13]

CIS- Center For Immigration Studies

CIS' James R. Edwards Jr. Claimed Immigrants Will Have A Negative Impact On American Workers. James R. Edwards Jr., a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, claimed that immigrants will deprive Americans of jobs, lower wages, and disproportionately use welfare:

Low-human-capital immigrants directly compete for (and deprive the native-born of) jobs that don't require a college degree.

These immigrants flood these labor markets and depress wages.  


Immigrants disproportionately use welfare, lack health coverage, live in overcrowd housing, and consume public resources like schools and health care. [Center for Immigration Studies, 3/21/13]

FAIR- Federation For American Immigration Reform

FAIR Claimed Immigrants Would “Increase Job Competition For” Unemployed Americans. In response to Republican calls to support comprehensive immigration reform, the Federation For American Immigration Reform said:

Despite the fact that granting a reprieve to the nation's 11-12 million illegal aliens will increase job competition for the 22 million un/underemployed Americans, as well as the number of individuals who are eligible for public assistance and ObamaCare, the RNC also claims amnesty will help grow the economy. [Federation For American Immigration Reform, 3/18/13]

FAIR Claimed Immigration Drives Down Wages For American Workers. In a May 2011 report on the “harmful effect of unskilled immigrants on American workers,” FAIR wrote:

Today's immigration system is dysfunctional because it is not responsive to the socioeconomic conditions of the country. Only a small share of legally admitted immigrants is sponsored by employers while the bulk are admitted because of family ties to earlier immigrants who may be living in poverty or near poverty. As a result, immigration contributes to an already-existing surplus of low-skilled workers, increasing job competition and driving down wages and conditions to the detriment of American workers. [Federation For American Immigration Reform, May 2011]

Studies Show Immigration Reform Would Greatly Benefit U.S. Economy

Center For American Progress: Immigration Reform Would Increase GDP, Incomes Of All Americans, Taxes Paid, And Jobs. A March 20 report by the Center For American Progress highlighted “the economic effects of granting legal status and citizenship to undocumented immigrants” using several different scenarios illustrated below. The study found that granting citizenship immediately had the greatest benefit to the economy -- it would increase the size of the economy by at least $1.4 trillion, all American worker wages by at least $791 billion, and would add at least 203,000 jobs:

[Center for American Progress, 3/20/13]

Center for the Study of Immigration Integration: Naturalized Immigrants Would See An “8 To 11 Percent Gain In Individual Earnings.” In a report by the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigration Integration, sociologist Manuel Pastor and Justin Scoggins similarly found that immigrants who go on to become citizens greatly enhance the country's economic output:

The impact on earnings can be significant: we estimate an 8 to 11 percent gain in individual earnings, phased in over time. And the positive results for the U.S. economy could be helpful: using the mid-point between lower-and upper -bound estimates of gains and setting a goal of shrinking the number of the eligible non-naturalized by half over five years, we estimate an earnings boost of nearly $40 billion over the next decade, with secondary impacts likely to boost GDP even more. [Center for the Study of Immigration Integration, December 2012]

CAP: DREAM Act Eligible Youth Alone Would Add $329 Billion and 1.4 Million Jobs To U.S. Economy By 2030. A September 2012 report by the Center for American Progress found that passing the DREAM Act -- which would provide a pathway to legal status for eligible young people who were brought to the United States as children -- would add billions to the economy and create millions of jobs:

We present an analysis to understand what would happen if the United States were to grant a pathway to legal status to an estimated 2.1 million eligible youth in our country by passing the DREAM Act. Overall, we find that the passage of the DREAM Act would add $329 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030, demonstrating the potential of the proposed law to boost economic growth and improve our nation's fiscal health. [Center for American Progress, 9/30/12]

For more on what experts say about the economic benefits of immigration reform, please click here

Contrary To Anti-Immigrant Claims, Immigrants Are Less Likely To Use Public Benefits Than U.S. Citizens

Cato Institute: “The Overall Cost Of Public Benefits Is Substantially Less For Low-Income Non-Citizen Immigrants.” In a February 19 study analyzing claims that immigrants use public benefits to a greater degree than native-born Americans, the Cato Institute wrote:

In reality, low-income non-citizen immigrants, including adults and children, are generally less likely to receive public benefits than those who are native-born. Moreover, when non-citizen immigrants receive benefits, the value of benefits they receive is usually lower than the value of benefits received by those born in the United States. The combination of lower average utilization and smaller average benefits indicates that the overall cost of public benefits is substantially less for low-income non-citizen immigrants than for comparable native-born adults and children. [Cato Institute, 2/19/13]

Cato Institute: “While Immigrants Begin With Lower Earnings, Their Incomes Improve As They Remain In The United States.” From the Cato Institute report:

Longitudinal studies have shown that when they first arrive, immigrants' earnings are lower than native citizens', but they invest more in education and training than natives and over time their earnings converge with those of native citizens. That is, while immigrants begin with lower earnings, their incomes improve as they remain in the United States for longer periods. As immigrants remain longer in the United States, their English proficiency and other job skills improve, which heightens their earning potential. [Cato Institute, 2/19/13]