UC Davis Global Migration and Center for American Progress: A Report Summary
September 12, 2022
For a long time, researchers in the field of global migration have been studying the challenges and opportunities that large-scale population movements present.
In 2021, a report by the University of California, Davis’ Global Migration Center, one of the IMPACT Centers within the Office of Research, and the Center for American Progress, analyzed an important way in which better integration of immigrants in the social fabric could provide a boost to the U.S. economy.
The researchers looked at four different scenarios to illustrate the potential economic impact that may result from granting a pathway to legalization to different groups of the 10.2 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
According to the report, putting undocumented immigrants on a pathway to legalization and citizenship would not only promote a fair, just and humane society, but also broaden opportunities, create more jobs, raise wages and ultimately benefit all American workers.
The study finds that a path to legalization would increase job opportunities for immigrants while increasing their wage and productivity in the long run, noted Giovanni Peri, a professor in the Department of Economics and the founding director of the Global Migration Center. “They would also contribute more to the local economy stimulating local demand,” he said.
“Also, legalized immigrants will have stronger incentives to increase their education and training, especially if young. These improvement in the local labor force would attract new firms and new investments with benefits for the whole economy,” said Peri.
Four scenarios-based models
The researchers modeled different economic outcomes based on the scenarios where different groups of undocumented immigrants were granted a pathway to citizenship.
- Scenario 1: Provides a pathway to citizenship for all the 10.2 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Over a decade, this would boost the total cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.7 trillion, create 438,800 new jobs and increase the annual wages of legalized workers by $14,000 (32.4%).
- Scenario 2: Legalization of essential workers would boost the GDP by $989 billion, create 203,200 new jobs, raise beneficiaries’ wages by $11,800 (27.3%) and the average national wages by $300 over the next decade. According to the report, 5 million undocumented immigrants are considered essential workers, based on Census Bureau data and a Department of Homeland Security definition of “essential workers.”
- Scenario 3: Passage of the American Dream and Promise Act would boost the national GDP by $799 billion and create 285,400 new jobs over the next decade. The average salary of covered Dreamers and TPS holders would rise by $16,800 (38.9%) over that time span, while nationwide average salaries would be pushed up by $400.
- Scenario 4: A combination of the American Dream and Promise Act plus pathway to citizenship for essential workers would boost the GDP by $1.5 trillion, create 400,800 new jobs, raise the wages of legalized immigrants by $13,500 (31.3%) and nationwide average wages by $600.
About the Global Migration Center
The UC Davis Global Migration Center is a focal point for interdisciplinary research focused on migrants, particularly vulnerable and at-risk migrants. The center also acts as a critical hub for the translation of this research into policy advice, action and support of immigrant communities.