Immigration action will boost California's economy, White House says

The White House said Monday that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration could boost California’s economy by as much as $27.5 billion.

In a public relations blitz in advance of the rollout of Obama’s expanded deferred action program, White House adviser Cecilia Muñoz said the president’s move to give work permits to millions and ease restrictions on high-skilled immigrants will increase wages and productivity in the nation’s largest economy.

“The executive actions encourage innovation and entrepreneurship,” Muñoz said. “By allowing undocumented immigrants … to come out of the shadows and into the mainstream economy, the president’s executive actions make it easier for both immigrants and U.S. born workers to find jobs that best suit their skills.”

Muñoz cited statistics from the White House Council of Economic Advisors, which has estimated that the package of changes announced by Obama last November will raise the nation’s GDP by up to $90 billion over the next 10 years by expanding the labor force and allowing immigrant workers the flexibility to seek new jobs.

Obama’s plan has come under attack from those who favor stricter immigration enforcement, with opponents dismissing White House estimates of economic growth. They say the changes could hurt U.S.-born workers and point to the cost of public services provided to immigrants.

The new policy has also been challenged by lawsuits from dozens of states, and this month the Republican-controlled House voted to gut large parts of Obama’s new policy, although such legislation is unlikely to pass the Senate, where Democrats have threatened to wage a filibuster.

A media conference call Monday led by Muñoz was the first of several state-by-state analyses offered by the White House on the local effects of Obama’s actions.

Muñoz was joined by California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who said Obama’s actions are a boon to law enforcement because immigrants with some form of legal status will be more likely to report crimes. Mike Krieger, co-founder of popular Web application Instagram, also joined Muñoz.

Krieger, an immigrant from Brazil, praised Obama’s efforts to make it easier for foreign-born workers to change jobs while waiting for green cards. He also called on Congress to raise the cap on high-skilled work visas, speaking from personal experience about the long wait for work authorization.

“We built and launched the first version of Instagram in less time than it took to get my visa,” Krieger said.

Twitter: @katelinthicum


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