LATINO VOICES
12/14/2012 03:04 pm ET

Citizenship For Legal Residents Could Boost Economy By Billions Of Dollars, Study Says

Looking for simple ways to kickstart the economy? Consider turning more immigrants into citizens.

Extending citizenship to more lawful, permanent residents could give the U.S. economy a boost worth between $37 billion and $52 billion, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

The study aimed to estimate the economic impact of naturalizing immigrants who have established legal residency in the United States. According to the study’s authors, citizenship opens up job opportunities and encourages people to start businesses in the United States or to make investments in their education and training that are tailored to the U.S. market.

“Citizenship, alone, can boost individual earnings by 8 to 11 percent, leading to a potential $21-$45 billion increase in cumulative earnings over 10 years that will have ripple effects on the national economy,” the study says.

Almost 40 million immigrants live in the United States, of whom about 8.5 million are eligible for naturalization, according to the study. The country of origin with the highest number of immigrants eligible for naturalization is Mexico, with 2.65 million -- 31 percent of the total. With 330,000 immigrants eligible for naturalization, the Philippines is a distant second.

While illegal immigration continues to divide the country, prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle say they favor expanding legal immigration.

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