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Jason Ritchie Headshot

One Year Down, How Many More to Go?

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IMMIGRATION
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One year ago today the U.S. Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform. One year later, the GOP controlled U.S. House has yet to even vote on reform.

Even as the immigration crisis continues to grow, they refuse to act. The surge of immigrants on our Southwestern border underscores what we know to be true: We need immigration reform and we need it now. We need the U.S. House. We need the Republican Party to listen to business, and act now.

Some have argued for calling up the National Guard to the border. Using the guardsmen to turn away children fleeing rampant violence cannot be the solution. Instead of spending $12,500 of taxpayer money to deport just one person, we need a responsible, long-term solution. We are a nation built by immigrants and yet some argue we should go against our history and economy to spend $137 billion ignoring the solutions staring us in the face.

Given the current state of our economy, I don't think we should be spending $137 billion in order to ultimately harm both American businesses and American workers.

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Leading economists across the political spectrum agree with the United States Chamber of Commerce; immigrants provide a net benefit to the economy. Undocumented workers contribute $15 billion every year to Social Security, taking out only $1 billion during that same period. Even so, some insist on wasting law enforcement's time, spending taxpayer dollars, harming business and damaging payroll and other tax incomes by deporting working immigrants.

Instead of fighting a costly, unwinnable, and illogical fight we should use the solution that has been sitting on the table for a year. Granting citizenship to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who currently reside in the United States would add more than $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy in the next ten years while the bill also strengthens our borders. These gains would come through additional taxes, and increased consumption and they are why comprehensive immigration reform is good for both families and business.

Well, some say, immigrants take away jobs from American workers. They are wrong.

Evidence shows that immigrants do not take away jobs from native-born workers. Undocumented workers benefit skilled workers; they do not compete with them.

It's Economics 101; specialization leads to greater productivity and growth. When immigrants are working on a construction site or in a restaurant they free up the more specialized American workers to focus on what they're specifically trained to do. Since these higher-skilled workers receive higher wages, it is in the best interest of business to have them working on tasks that require their specific skill set. Lower paid and less highly trained workers take on the rest, reducing the overall cost of doing business.

This is why states with more immigrant workers, have stronger economies and boost skilled workers who make more money and work more hours. From 1990-2007, skilled workers in complimentary jobs saw their pay increase by up to 10 percent thanks to the addition of immigrant workers.

While House Republicans have faulted the Obama Administration and weak border security for the current crisis, they have no one to blame but themselves. Time and time again they have rejected immigration reform, even the moderate, bipartisan bill that cleared the Senate one year ago today. The clock is running, our elected representatives need to listen to American business and American economists. Pass comprehensive immigration reform.