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Obama: Immigration action will boost wages, increase tax revenue

24 Nov

President Obama during a visit to Chicago Tuesday will tout what he says are the economic benefits of his executive action to halt deportations and provide work permits for millions of illegal immigrants.

The president will tout a new analysis by his Council of Economic Advisers estimating that the steps will boost gross domestic product between $90 billion and $210 billion over the next decade. The White House also estimates that because of improvements to the economy stemming from the immigration action, native workers will see an average wage increase of 0.3 percent over that period.

And, the White House argues, by providing work permits under the program, the government can boost its tax revenue.

“Individuals potentially eligible for deferred action under the president’s executive actions are in the country today, but roughly two-thirds of them don’t pay taxes and the president is changing that by ensuring that both workers and employers will be able to come out from the shadows and contribute payroll taxes, just like all American citizens,” a White House official said.

Republicans have argued that the opposite is true and that the president’s immigration plan would allow workers to seize jobs that would otherwise go to American workers.

“The White House order will pad the labor market further with millions of illegal workers, pushing wages down for large corporations who benefit from an outsized ratio of jobseekers to jobs,” said Stephen Miller, a spokesman for ranking Senate Budget Committee member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

“This will mean illegal workers will be competing directly with American workers in an-already slack low-wage labor market,” he continued, citing a study by Harvard professor George Borjas estimating current immigration rates would reduce wages for competing American workers by $402 billion annually.

The president is also expected to use his remarks to cast immigration as an issue broader than the Hispanic community. Obama will be speaking in a heavily Polish neighborhood in the city’s northwest suburbs. The area features substantial immigrant populations from across Eastern Europe.

“We’ve got some Irish immigrants whose papers aren’t in order,” Obama said of his hometown during a speech last week in Las Vegas. “We’ve got some Polish immigrants whose papers are not in order.  We’ve got some Ukrainian folks. … This is not just a Latino issue, this is an American issue.”

Administration officials have said they want to aggressively build the case for the president’s executive action in a series of presidential trips and interviews.

But the White House is also hoping the events can help build pressure on congressional Republicans to pass a farther-reaching immigration bill.

“The president will note that these common-sense actions are only the first step and that Congress must finish this job,” a White House official said.