Holt: Immigration reform would be major boost to N.J. economy

TRENTON – Immigration reform could create 7,245 new jobs annually in New Jersey, and increase accumulated earnings by $25 billion over 10 years for immigrant workers who would pay $2.6 billion into the state coffers in the form of taxes.

That is the conclusion of a new study by a think tank and a labor union, and it is being used as ammunition in the call for action on immigration reform in Congress.

The Center for American Progress and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees laid out their economic reasons in the report issued Friday as to why immigration reform would benefit the United States, improving the lives of immigrants and the bottom lines of businesses.

Two congressmen – New Jersey’s Rush Holt and Arizona’s Raul Grijalva – championed the findings today as they sought to reframe the entire question of immigration reform from a negative to a positive.

“We have to get beyond immigration as a problem,” said Holt, whose 12th District includes much of central New Jersey. “We have to talk about the opportunity that immigration reform presents us.”

Not only does potential immigration reform represent a chance to improve the economy, it represents a chance to simply do the right thing morally, Holt said.

Immigration is America, according to Holt.

“We have become stronger socially, culturally and economically through each wave of immigration,’’ Holt said.

He said that he has two staff people working full time on visa issues and immigration problems. “That shouldn’t be necessary,’’ Holt said.  “Things should work better. There should be a legal pathway for millions of immigrants who are here without papers.”

He believes that there will be bipartisan support for the immigration reform, even though he concedes it probably won’t be unanimous among New Jersey’s 10-member congressional delegation in the House.

But he said he also believes the tide is turning and that any obstructionist Republicans in Congress will be outweighed by Republicans who support reform and by business owners around the country who believe reform is needed.

The report examined S744’s potential economic impact, including its effect on New Jersey’s undocumented immigrants, who could number more than a half million, according to some sources.

The report claims the expansion of economic activity will be so great that opponents will no longer be able to stand in the way of reform, according to its backers.

“There are uncertainties in any long-term projection about what’s going to be happening,” Holt said, but he said what can’t be denied is that “All of this contributes to the economic growth.”

Holt: Immigration reform would be major boost to N.J. economy