Undocumented Pinoys say legalizing them will boost US economy

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Mar 28 2013 09:29 AM | Updated as of Mar 28 2013 05:29 PM

SAN FRANCISCO - Public support to give 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to legalization and citizenship in America has grown in the last few months, as President Barack Obama pushed for lawmakers to muster their “political courage” and pass an immigration reform bill he can sign as soon as possible.

Obama said he expects a bill to be put forward and for debate on the draft legislation to begin next month.

“We’ve known for years that our immigration system is broken, that we’re not doing enough to harness the talent and ingenuity of all those who want to work hard and find a place here in America and after avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all,” Obama said.

A study recently released by the Center for American Progress, called “Legal Status for Undocumented Workers is Good for American Workers” by David Madland and Nick Bunker, cited why granting undocumented immigrants legal status and citizenship will be beneficial for America’s economy.

The study pointed out that if undocumented immigrants are given much-needed relief by 2013, America’s GDP would grow by $1.4 trillion in the next ten years.

It added that Americans would earn an extra $791 billion dollars in personal income over the same time period.

The Filipino Community Center in San Francisco could not agree more with the study, which also cited that granting undocumented immigrants legal status and citizenship could create more than 200,000 jobs per year, thanks to the contributions of undocumented immigrants.

“Undocumented immigrants contribute greatly to the community-at-large and to the nation. They have to ability to contribute to the local economy, to small businesses who thrive because they have employees that do jobs a lot of Americans and documented immigrants would not do,” said Mario de Mira, a coordinator at the Filipino Community Center.

The study also cited that within five years of immigration reform, undocumented immigrants would be earning 25% more than they currently do. This means, they could contribute more in federal, state and local taxes.

San Amacan and Harold Butanas are undocumented Filipino caregivers who claim they do not get proper wages from their employers.

Amacan said, if he is granted a pathway to legalization and citizenship, he will open his own care facility.
“If I have my own business, I can help other people by giving jobs. I can help the government by being a small business owner,” he said.

Butanas added that if he becomes documented, he intends to go back to work as welder, a job he used to have in the Philippines,

“Once immigration reform is passed, I can proudly say, that I can do more for America’s progress,” he said.