Local Blogs

By Steve Levy

Allowing Unauthorized Immigrants to Learn and Earn Legally Will Help the Economy

Uploaded: Apr 11, 2014

There are approximately 2.5 million unauthorized immigrant residents in California of which approximately 1.5 million are working and another 300,000 or so are children.

If they are allowed to learn and earn (study and work) legally, it would benefit them and the overall state economy. In this blog I am not raising issues of citizenship or eligibility for safety net program benefits but merely the right to pay tuition and go to college and work and pay taxes legally—i.e., out of the shadows.

Some of these working age residents will probably work in low wage jobs for a long time. But some of them already have skills that would earn higher wages and help employers if they were allowed to work legally. In addition some could benefit from training if they were eligible for the training and then could use their higher skills.

And all of the children could benefit as would our economy if they are allowed to learn and earn legally. This is the basis for efforts to help these "Dreamers"—residents who were brought to this country as children.

In our Bay Area work on mobility for low and moderate wage workers, we identified projects and models that are operating successfully but at a small scale—30, 50 or 100 people helped at a time.

Here is a chance to improve the mobility chances for some of the 400,000 to 500,000 unauthorized immigrants in the Bay Area and many more statewide.

The term unauthorized immigrant is the current official designation used by the Department of Homeland Security under the first President Bush. The prior official designation was undocumented immigrant. Please use either of these designations if you wish to reply to this blog. Thanks.