DES MOINES — A coalition of labor groups and immigration advocates released a report Tuesday claiming Iowa would reap economic benefits if Congress passes the current immigration reform bill.
“It would take 11 million hard-working immigrants out of the shadows and the underground economy,” said Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61.
Homan joined Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens President Joe Henry, Des Moines Hispanic activist Paula Martinez, Pastor Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz and others on a conference call Tuesday afternoon about the report.
According to the group, the immigration reform proposal as outlined in the bill passed by the U.S. Senate and waiting action in the House of Representatives would mean a $3.3 billion cumulative increase in the earnings of all Iowa residents, and $2.8 billion cumulative additional earnings for Iowa immigrants, who will pay an additional $283 million in state and local taxes over the next 10 years.
The figures are based on a set of reports put out by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning policy group based in Washington, D.C. The group estimates “the full effect of granting legal status and citizenship to unauthorized immigrants is an income gain of 25.1 percent. Of this boost in income, about three-fifths comes from legalization and about two-fifths is attributable to transitioning from legal status to citizenship,” according to the methodology disclosure in a March 2013 report.
“With the exception of Native Americans, everyone in the United States has immigrant ancestry,” Alfaro-Santiz said.
The group also called on Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District to vote for the legislation, which has been sharply criticized by some conservatives for offering “amnesty” to undocumented workers.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, has been in the middle of that particular tempest for comments he made that for every one undocumented worker who comes to the U.S. and turns out to be a class valedictorian, there are 100 who carry drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Asked why the group is asking only for Latham’s support, Homan chuckled, “We believe that Congressman Latham is the likely representative that would work with the other side of the aisle and get this passed.”