White House: Pathway to citizenship would boost GDP by $1.4T over decade

The White House on Tuesday released a new report arguing a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants would add 2 million jobs to the economy and boost gross domestic product by $1.4. trillion over the next decade.

The report, penned by Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Muñoz and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, is the latest in a series of releases touting the economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform as the White House pushes House Republicans to act on the issue.

"We cannot afford a system that creates a group which can never become fully American, denying equal rights to people who pay the same taxes and play by the same rules even after they've paid a penalty and gotten on the right side of the law," the pair writes.

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The White House has focused its attention on an economic argument for immigration reform since the Senate approved a bipartisan bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship, as well as beef up border security and implement a electronic employee verification system, in a 68-32 vote in June.

Two weeks ago, the White House released state-by-state reports outlining the potential economic benefits of passing the Senate bill, following up on a July study form Muñoz and Sperling detailing the overall national economic impact. Another report focused on benefits to farmers and rural communities.

Some Republican lawmakers, though, have criticized the White House's effort to argue the positive economics of immigration reform. 

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said earlier this month that the bill "has become synonymous with corporate welfare" and said lawmakers should be "more concerned with the welfare of millions of struggling workers and taxpayers."

"Perhaps we can finally have this debate out in the open — and dispense once and for all with the idea that the CEOs bankrolling the immigration push are concerned with anything other than reducing the cost of labor," Sessions said earlier this month. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has also said he opposes a pathway to citizenship.

"People have a pathway to citizenship right now: It's to abide by the immigration laws, and if they have family relationships, if they have a job skill that allows them to do that, they can obtain citizenship," Goodlatte told NPR News. "But simply someone who broke the law, came here, say, 'I'll give you citizenship now,' that I don't think is going to happen."

In a press conference last week, President Obama said that "internal Republican caucus politics" were holding back progress on the immigration bill.

"I am absolutely certain that the votes for the Senate bill — which strengthens border security; demands responsibility from undocumented workers to pay a fine, pay a penalty and get to the back of the line; reforms our legal immigration system; holds employers accountable — I am absolutely confident that if that bill was on the floor of the House, it would pass," Obama said.