I wish I had something new to say about immigration. Over the last eight or so months more that 52,000 children have made their way into South Texas. (Find other recent articles on this problem – here, here and here.) I don’t know, maybe this is a partisan answer, but if we would have secured the border after 9/11, I don’t think that we would have this problem now. Instead, we have talked about building fences and have never come up with a comprehensive solution to this problem. The problem must be looked at from both sides of the border. As long as we have way more economic opportunity and offer a safer environment to raise children, people are going to try to make it to the US.

The Center for American Progress has come up with five reasons why Administrative Action would help the American Worker

  1. Immigrants with temporary status would be able to contribute more in tax revenues.Bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allowing them to work legally would put workers and employers on the books, thus increasing tax revenues. According to estimates by the U.S. Social Security Administration, a minority of undocumented workers and their employers are paying payroll taxes. A deferred-action program would create an avenue for undocumented workers and their employers to pay payroll taxes, which support vital programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
  2. Undocumented immigrants who can work legally would improve the productivity of our labor market. Temporary status would let undocumented immigrants move freely in the labor market to find jobs that best match their skills. Greater labor-market mobility for undocumented immigrants would not displace native-born workers since many undocumented immigrants are already working in the labor market. Moreover, immigrants and native-born workers tend to occupy different types of jobs, even within the same industry. In fact, American workers would benefit from undocumented immigrants ability to work legally: When individuals have jobs that maximizes their skills, it increases not only their earnings, but also the productivity of the entire labor force, which in turn grows our economy.
  3. A deferred-action program would create jobs as undocumented immigrants spend more money in their communities. Undocumented immigrants with temporary status would be able to work legally, move into jobs that complement native-born workers, and earn a fair wage for their hard work. These immigrants would in turn spend their new earnings throughout their communities on purchases such as cars and homes. This increased consumption would generate new jobs for American workers as businesses meet the higher demand for goods and services.
  4. Granting temporary status would increase the wages of American workers. Similar to the benefit of job creation, temporary status would improve the wages of American workers in addition to the wages of immigrants themselves. Deferred action would help eliminate the downward pressure on wages due to employers taking advantage of undocumented immigrants’ legal status and paying them subminimum wages. More importantly, wages would likely rise as undocumented immigrants earn more money and spend their increased income throughout the economy. In addition, businesses would observe greater sales and higher profits, and workers would likely receive higher wages in turn.
  5. Giving legal status to unauthorized workers would improve employment protections for all workers. Currently, there are 8 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. All too often, unscrupulous employers take advantage of these workers’ fear of deportation as a way to sidestep labor and employment laws, knowing that undocumented workers are not likely to file formal employment complaints with the government. Our labor and employment laws are most effective when all workers are able to execute their rights. As long as our immigration system undermines our employment laws, all workers are at risk of being victims of unlawful employment practices such as not paying overtime. Temporary status would ensure that some undocumented immigrants could work legally in the United States without fear of deportation. It would allow these workers to execute their workplace rights and, in doing so, strengthen the effectiveness of employment and labor laws for all workers.


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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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