Dream Act: employment and economic impact
The Partnership for the New American Economy issued an important report in October on the economic results of the Dream Act, if enacted.
“The Economic Benefits of Passing the DREAM Act," by Juan Carlos Guzmán and Raúl C. Jara, draws upon the current versions of the DREAM Act submitted by Sen. Richard Durbin (S.952) and Rep. Howard Berman (H.R. 1842).
To be eligible, an undocumented person has to have come to the United States at age 15 or younger, be currently age 35 or younger, have been present in the country for at least five years, completed high school, and completed at least two years of higher education or honorably served in the armed forces for at least two years.
Eligible immigrants per the Act first receive conditional legal status for a period of six years, under which they can complete their studies and work legally in the United States. After that period, if they have met all of the requirements, they can apply for permanent legal status (a green card) and eventually citizenship
The authors forecast that by 2030 the Act will create 1.4 million new jobs, and increase by 19% the total compensation of all eligible youth. How will this happen?
First, enacting the law would provide an incentive for their further education because for most of those who would be eligible the legalization provisions can only be attained through completion of high school and some college. Receiving more education opens access to higher-paying jobs, enabling these undocumented youth to become much more productive members of our society.
Second, gaining legal status itself translates into higher earnings for these youth since legal status allows DREAMers to apply to a broader range of high-paying jobs rather than having to resort to low-wage jobs from employers who are willing to pay them under the table.
According to the authors, this will not take away jobs from native born Americans:
First, many economists find that immigrants tend to complement the skills of native workers rather than compete with them, especially as immigrants move up the education and skills chain. Increasing the education of immigrant workers would therefore decrease the competition between DREAMers and the native-born.
Second, research shows that an increase in college-educated immigrants directly increases U.S. gross domestic product—the largest measure of economic growth—which correlates to more jobs for American workers. In the 1990s, for example, the increase in college-educated immigrants was found to be responsible for a 1.4% to 2.4% in U.S. GDP.