Immigration Policy that Benefits the American Middle Class

This post, written by Amy Traub, originally appeared on DMI Blog

Immigration policy is among the most divisive issues facing the U.S. today, and progressives often don't know how to talk or think about it. On the one hand, we are faced with racist demagogues who appeal to Americans' very real economic anxiety to promote harsh and unworkable policies that will benefit no one. On the other hand, immigration advocates make a vital point about the human rights of immigrants, but so far have not successfully addressed mainstream concerns. As progressives, we know that scapegoating undocumented immigrants is wrong, but that doesn't provide a positive agenda or a way to distinguish which immigration policy proposals will truly move us forward as a nation.

Any debate over immigration policy must be connected to the larger conversation about America's squeezed middle class and the working people striving to attain a middle-class standard of living. Thorough review of the economic, sociological, and demographic evidence leads us to the following conclusion:

An immigration policy that serves the fundamental interests of middle-class Americans must take two realities into account: immigrants' economic contributions make them indispensable to our nation's middle class, and, at the same time, a lack of effective rights in the workplace for undocumented immigrants undermines the ability of all working people in America to secure and maintain jobs that provide a middle-class standard of living.

The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy has turned this insight in to a two-part middle-class test.

1) Immigration policy should bolster--not undermine--the critical contribution that immigrants make to our economy as workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers and consumers, because:

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