With Arizona turning into a police state when it comes to undocumented workers (see NYT story), and with immigration reform stepping into the center ring in Congress, perhaps it's worth remembering the economic benefits of having a flexible and humane immigration program. A recent UCLA study says that legalization of undocumented immigrants would add about $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years. A study by the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that in the 25 largest metropolitan areas immigration and economic growth go hand in hand. Still other studies suggest that losing undocumented laborers would put extreme strains on certain industries, even in a slow-growth economy. Let's not forget that an influx of immigrants in the 1990s helped revive the region's struggling economy.
I realize that emotional arguments surrounding the immigration issue won't be tempered by academics. Yet, misguided economics are the centerpiece of the anti-immigrant tirades - the notion that "those people" are taking our jobs. This is simply not the case.