Providing a path to citizenship as part of Biden's infrastructure plan would boost economic growth, more than 60 economists say

Providing a path to citizenship as part of Biden's infrastructure plan would boost economic growth, more than 60 economists say
Information packs are distributed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services following a citizenship ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in BostonReuters
  • Over 60 economists signed a letter urging President Joe Biden to include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of his infrastructure plan.
  • The group said that the policy would boost economic growth and improve wages for all Americans.
  • Biden began infrastructure spending talks with a group of bipartisan senators on Thursday.

More than 60 economists urged President Joe Biden's economic leaders to include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in Biden's infrastructure plan in a letter on Thursday, saying that doing so will stimulate economic growth.

In a letter addressed to Neera Tanden, designate-director of the Office of Management and Budget, Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, Cecilia Rouse, chair-designate of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Jeff Zients, counselor to the president, over 60 economists urged Biden's team to consider the economic, fiscal, and public policy benefits of ensuring undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship in the president's infrastructure plan.

"Offering them the chance to earn citizenship will help to ensure that the economic recovery reaches all corners of society, including those that have disproportionately been on the frontlines of the pandemic and yet left out of prior relief bills, and establishes a more stable and equitable foundation on which future economic success can be built," the letter said.

The group of economists, which included former President Barack Obama's top economist Jason Furman, said that a policy to provide a path to citizenship would increase wages and productivity, create jobs and additional tax revenue, strengthen worker protections for immigrants, and lift many families out of poverty. They cited a Supreme Court brief that detailed how the policy would carry out those benefits.

There are an estimated 10.4 million undocumented immigrants in the country. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor and a White House Council on Economic Advisors analysis, granting the immigrants legal status will boost wages not only for the beneficiaries, but for all working Americans.


The letter also said providing work authorization for undocumented immigrants would boost both state and federal gross domestic product. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, a path to citizenship would cause a $1.4 trillion growth in GDP over a ten year period.

"They will spend their increased earnings on the purchase of food, clothing, housing, cars, and computers," the study said. "That spending, in turn, will stimulate demand in the economy for more products and services, which creates jobs and expands the economy."

Although citizenship was not mentioned in Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure plan, he has begun reversing some of former President Donald Trump's immigration policies. On Friday, his administration said that around 25,000 people seeking asylum will be allowed to stay in the US while awaiting a verdict on their claims, disregarding the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

And on Thursday, the president met with a bipartisan group of senators to begin discussions on infrastructure spending. Prior to the meeting, Biden said he never viewed infrastructure as a partisan issue, but immigration has typically been partisan in Congress, so a path to citizenship included in the plan is not likely to see bipartisan cooperation.

However, the group of economists urged Biden to consider the benefits a path to citizenship would have not only for immigrants, but for the whole country.


"The COVID-19 pandemic has made plain how our public health and economic fates are inextricably tied together, and how harmful shortcomings in one part of our economy affect us all," the letter said. "The inverse is also true: conferring citizenship will bring expansive benefits to communities across the country, not only for the individuals directly affected, but for the larger systems-families, and the workforce-that they comprise."