Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants Could Add $1.5 Trillion to Economy

Providing citizenship to all unauthorized immigrant workers in the United States would add at least $1.5 trillion to the American economy and $367 billion in federal and state tax revenue over the next decade, according to a new UCLA study. By comparison, granting citizenship only to the members of that group who are considered “essential workers” — including in agriculture, retail and construction — would generate an additional $1.2 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product and $298 billion in tax revenue over the same time frame. Granting citizenship only to people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, would generate $112 billion in GDP and $28 billion in tax revenue; and granting citizenship only to recipients of Temporary Protected Status would account for $62 billion in GDP and $16 billion in tax revenue. The study’s publication comes as Congress and the Biden administration are considering ways to move forward on immigration reform. In the past two months, multiple standalone bills have been introduced to address specific aspects of immigration policy. Some proposals would grant citizenship to certain groups of unauthorized immigrants — those covered by DACA or Temporary Protected Status, for example — while excluding others. The report’s authors note that excluding certain groups of immigrants from earning citizenship would mean forgoing billions of dollars in economic output and tax revenue, and the potential for creating tens of thousands of jobs. The study is a collaboration among the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.


Segura on Broad Support for Immigration Reform

The Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation shared Dean Gary Segura’s insights about political support for immigration reform as part of a series of video highlights from the organization’s conversations with “Mexican-American History Makers.” Segura cited data showing that two-thirds of American voters — including 58% of Republican registered voters — favor comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. “It is not a divisive issue. We can agree on immigration policy,” said Segura, noting that polls show less disagreement on immigration than on 20 other issues at the national level. “But there is a loud chorus of anger that doesn’t agree.” Standing in the way of immigration reform is a hard-line right-wing movement that does not represent majority opinion, he said. This “last screaming vestige of the dying confederacy … is not not going to go easily,” Segura said. The full interview with Segura, conducted in January 2020, is available here.

Study Calls for Permanent Residence for Immigrants With Temporary Protected Status

UCLA Luskin’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) has published a policy brief on the benefits of Temporary Protected Status, an immigration status that permits people from specified countries to remain temporarily in the United States if they cannot safely return to their homes because of a catastrophic event. Of the approximately 400,000 people living in the U.S. under the program, over 88% are in the labor force, over 70% have lived here for more than 20 years, and about two-thirds have U.S.-born children. This suggests the significant destabilizing effect that could be caused by changes that the Trump administration proposed in 2018, which would have removed protections for people from Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador. In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security extended the protections through January 2021 following injunctions arising from a series of lawsuits. To improve the long-term integration of immigrants, the LPPI study recommended granting permanent resident status to those currently living under Temporary Protected Status. It also called for renewing Temporary Protected Status designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan — the home nations for 98% of all participants in the program — beyond the January 2021 deadline. “As we have seen with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there are benefits with taking people out of the shadows,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of LPPI. “At a time when immigrants have played a key role in maintaining the economy as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand what is at stake when protections for immigrants like Temporary Protected Status are taken away.” — Eliza Moreno

A Migrant’s Tale of Struggle, Survival and Resistance

A conference highlighting the unique challenges of Central Americans who migrate to Mexico and the United States drew students, scholars and activists to UCLA Luskin to share knowledge and encourage more holistic and human portrayals of the refugees. The Jan. 30-31 conference featured panelists from the United States, Mexico and Guatemala, including UCLA faculty experts affiliated with the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI), one of the event’s sponsors. Sociology Professor Cecilia Menjívar delivered opening and closing remarks at the multilingual, interdisciplinary conference. Chicana/o Studies Professor Leisy Abrego said critics of immigration reform who wonder why the United States should take responsibility for sheltering asylum seekers often fail to acknowledge that the U.S. incited much of the gang violence in Central America, specifically in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Amid negative rhetoric portraying Central Americans as criminals or helpless victims, she said, “we always erase, at least in the main discourse, the role of the United States in creating all of this.” Juan Herrera, assistant professor of geography, shared his personal experiences as a dark-skinned Latino in a community known for anti-indigenous sentiments to bring a human face to the economic, political and social struggles faced by Central American migrants. “[In] our current neoliberal economy, migrants are valued solely for their cheap labor without adequately perceiving them as human beings who construct social relationships,” he said. LPPI was one of several UCLA entities sponsoring the conference, including two student-run organizations, the Central American Isthmus Graduate Association and Union Centroamericana de UCLA. — Bryanna Ruiz and Amado Castillo


Roy Reflects on Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Ananya Roy, professor of social welfare and urban planning and director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy, joined Society and Space for an interview about her recently published article “The City in the Age of Trumpism: From Sanctuary to Abolition.” Roy explained that her own journey as a “student of sanctuary” and its long and complex history was prompted by the 2016 election of President Trump and her subsequent participation in local efforts to combat the normalization of Trumpism. “I was particularly struck by the limited scope of sanctuary jurisdictions and their reliance on the authority of the police,” Roy explained. “Liberal cities committed to sanctuary status, such as San Francisco, are also sites of brutal practices of displacement and expulsion of the (always racialized) poor.” Roy identified the selective practices of protection and policing in today’s sanctuary cities as a “logic of liberal inclusion” that must be met with an ethics of abolition.


Immigration Reform for the 21st Century

Join the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative for a conversation with congressional leaders and migration policy experts focusing on the challenges and opportunities ahead with implementing comprehensive immigration reform.

From the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to standalone bills in Congress, conversations about immigration cannot be divorced from the essential role of immigrants in COVID-19 relief and recovery. Undocumented immigrants are central to the success of the nation, yet they are excluded from critical economic, political and civic opportunities. This not only impacts their lives but hinders progress for the country as we seek to overcome a global pandemic.

LPPI will convene a diverse set of voices to address two fundamental questions: What should 21st century immigration reform look like and what are the challenges and opportunities to pass a package that doesn’t leave anyone behind?

The webinar will be moderated by Russell Conteras, Axios race and justice reporter, and feature these panelists:

  • Joaquin Castro, United States Representative, TX-20
  • Andrew Selee, President of the Migration Policy Institute
  • Dr. Cecilia Menjívar, Dorothy Meier Chair in Social Equities and Professor of Sociology at UCLA
  • Angélica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Los Angeles
  • Linda Sánchez, United States Representative, CA-38 (Invited)
  • Rob Bonta, California Attorney General (Invited)