The DREAM Act would generate long-term economic benefits while Arizona-type immigration enforcement has had a negative economic impact on that state’s economy: That was the message delivered by participants in a press conference hosted by the Alliance for Immigrants Rights – Michigan.

The DREAM Act would grant a person who entered the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 conditional permanent resident status for a period of six years, after which he or she could aspire to be a legal permanent resident. The act requires youth to attain at least an associate-level college degree to be eligible for legal permanent resident status.

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration enforcement law, meanwhile, would criminalize undocumented immigrants, currently a civil violation under federal immigration law.

Marshall Fitz told conference participants that the Center for American Progress contracted the firm Elliott D Pollack and Company to study the impact of S.B. 1070 on the convention industry. The study shows that conference cancellations and a stop to future bookings resulted in a $400 million loss in economic output and more than $130 million in lost earnings.

Fitz added that the only people who benefit from S.B. 1070-like measures are the politicians who create these wedge issues. He concluded that hopefully, this study will give legislators pause before they follow Arizona’s path.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are up to 2.1 million people eligible for DREAM Act benefits, but only about 825,000 beneficiaries would gain legal permanent resident status.

The DREAM Act would produce thousands of college graduates, contributing to the pool of higher-income earners needed by the future workforce.

A UCLA No DREAMERS Left Behind study looks at two scenarios to project the national economic benefits generated by the DREAM Act by calculating the income of those affected over a 40-year period.

Raul Hinojosa, one of the authors of the UCLA study, said during the Tuesday press conference, “This is a critical moment for American civil rights and how we are looking to fill the high-skilled workforce of tomorrow.”

Hinojosa explained that the estimates of the net benefit for the U.S economy is in 2010 dollars and does not include the overall value of what people produce.

In one scenario, dubbed by the authors the No DREAMers Left Behind scenario, 2.1 million undocumented immigrants would become legalized and generate approximately $3.6 trillion over a 40-year period.

In the other scenario, in which 825,000 eligible individuals achieve legal permanent resident status, the study concludes that the income generated over 40 years would be $1.4 trillion.

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