Should children brought to the US illegally be given legal status?

A joint report released today by Washington’s Center for American Progress and New York’s Partnership for a New American Economy predicts a massive boost to the US economy if children brought to the US illegally are given legal status. In return, immigrants would have improved access to university or college and the chance for better employment prospects. Within twenty years the report indicates the economy could benefit from 1.4 million jobs and $329 billion.

Already, 2.1 million young people are eligible under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or the DREAM act. These young people arrived in the US as minors and the DREAM act is proposed as a way to provide them with legal residency if they have attended college or participated in the military. This is the first time an economic argument has been made in support of the DREAM act – previously political support centered on personalizing the predicaments of the young people and asserting their moral right to stay in the US.

Some politicians have applauded the findings of the report, claiming they provide a strong argument in favor of the DREAM act, which is already supported by President Obama, by showing the value to the American economy of encouraging immigrants to make an application for US citizenship, and demonstrating how immigrants could contribute to genuine economic growth.

Obama went on to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives young illegal immigrants the opportunity to take advantage of deferred deportations and to benefit from work permits for two years, although it falls short of granting legal residency or US citizenship.