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MYTH: Enforcing our Current Laws Will Halt Illegal Immigration.

FACT: Policies geared only towards “sealing the border” or deporting the undocumented without reforming the immigration system and providing a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the country would cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars and have a devastating impact on vast swaths of the U.S. economy.

o A 2005 study from the Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates that it would cost between $206 billion and $230 billion over five years to deport all undocumented immigrants from the United States. Moreover, in a 2006 study, CAP calculates that removing all undocumented immigrants from the U.S. labor force would result in a shortfall of nearly 2.5 million less-skilled workers.

o A 2006 report from the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the 7.2 million workers among the 11.5 undocumented immigrants in the United States as of March 2005-while accounting for 4.9 percent of the labor force as a whole-comprised 24 percent of all workers in farming, fishing, and forestry; 17 percent in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; 14 percent in construction; 12 percent in food preparation and serving; and 9 percent in production occupations. Mass deportations therefore would have a devastating effect on numerous industries, particularly given the small and shrinking number of younger native-born workers available to fill these kinds of less-skilled jobs.

More mythbusting facts on this issue can be found in The Top 5 Immigration Myths of This Campaign Season, a policy brief prepared by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC).

AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08052169 (posted May. 21, 2008)

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