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Thursday, May 09 2013 11:00 PM

Economy could flower from law reforms

By The Bakersfield Californian

Immigration reform, still working its way through the U.S. Senate, is expected to pay dividends by boosting the state's economy and contributing to the nation's Social Security system, according to two new studies.

Stephen C. Goss, the Social Security Administration's chief actuary, has informed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that the long-range impact of immigration reform will be "positive" on Social Security as more newly documented immigrants emerge from the underground economy and begin paying into the system.

A separate study by the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration says reform will boost the state's annual aggregate income by 12.6 percent -- and the Central Valley's by 14.5 percent -- once a pathway to citizenship is cleared for the state's approximately 2.6 million undocumented immigrants. In the valley, that translates to nearly half a billion dollars.

There are plenty of arguments for immigration reform but these new ones are more than mere icing. These studies back up widespread assertions that immigration reform, properly realized, will build the country, not diminish it. The financial contributions of newly legalized immigrants could be a meaningful component in the state's economic recovery. Those contributions are likely to increase dramatically once the thousands of immigrants now living in the underground economy can safely emerge.

Not everyone agrees that immigration reform will confer a net gain to the economy -- the Heritage Foundation puts the price tag in the trillions -- but these studies suggest that the influx of legal residents may not be the unfettered drain some fear.

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