“As part of this immigration debate there’s been a lot of heat but not very much light.”
Charles Foster heads The Greater Houston Partnership’s Task Force on Immigration Reform and Americans for Immigration Reform. He says the issue has been so been so polarizing that Washington is paralyzed and the only voices being heard are those calling for an enforcement only policy.
“It may sound good as a sound bite; it completely ignores the social and economic impact of immigration.”
Ray Perryman heads the Perryman Group, an economic research group in Waco. It did an analysis of the economic impact of undocumented workers on the country and on every state. He says simply, this country doesn’t have enough workers.
“Consequently, we’ve had a growing number of undocumented come into the economy basically because there were jobs and opportunities. Now, we need to take a step back and come up with a rational policy that allows us to keep these workers, make use of them, let them contribute without some of the negatives that come from not having a comprehensive policy.”
He says for example just removing all undocumented works would cost the economy half a trillion dollars a year. That would get staggeringly larger as the ripple effect of the loss of those workers spread. He says Texas would be hit very hard.
“We basically right now have 450-thousand people unemployed; one-point-one million undocumented workers and you couldn’t even substitute those jobs one for one so it would be a huge adverse impact to our economy if that were to happen.”
Stan Merack is with the Partnership and says there are also very serious social issues.
“These people are enjoying the rights and protections of our wage and hour laws, they’re scared to go to the police when they get robbed because they’re scared of deportation. They’re scared to go to the doctors when they’re sick and they certainly can’t get driver’s licenses and I don’t relish the thought of a lot of people being out there without a driver’s license, without liability insurance because they don’t have a social security number. So, we need to do something to legalize their status even if it’s on a temporary basis.”