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Immigration bill’s time has arrived


Slowly but surely, the arguments fail.

Immigration reform will bring an influx of immigrants.

Market forces drive immigration, which increases when there is a demand for workers.

With no change in the law, net immigration between 2005 and 2010 fell to zero.

Illegal immigrants take jobs away from American citizens.

Low-skilled immigrants fill the jobs others don’t want, creating jobs with their earnings that allow others to move up the pay scale.

Illegal immigrants are a drain on the economy, consuming services they don’t pay for.

Immigrants aren’t exempt from taxes: They pay sales and real estate taxes. In 2010, $15 billion was paid into the Social Security system by undocumented workers – with no intention of ever collecting benefits – and their employers.

Immigration reform is useless without tighter border security.

Illegal border crossings have been decreasing steadily as the U.S. ramped up to its toughest-ever security measures, spending more than $20 billion a year for 20,000 border patrol agents and at least six unmanned aircraft. Deportations are at an all-time high.

Spending on benefits will bankrupt the U.S. if the reform bill is approved.

Last week’s report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office laid waste to that claim.

Not only will the immigration bill introduced by the bipartisan Gang of Eight not increase federal deficits, it could reduce them by nearly $200 billion over the next decade.

The CBO report found that the proposed bill would increase the U.S. population by about 10.4 million people through 2023 and by 16.2 million by 2033. About 8 million people now living in the U.S. illegally would gain legal status.

While spending for federal benefits would increase, it would be more than offset by increased tax revenue generated by a larger workforce. Over 20 years, deficits could be reduced by as much as $1 trillion.

With the spending myth debunked, it’s time for Congress to listen to the public.

A Gallup poll last week found a majority of respondents support each of six policy changes proposed in the immigration bill, including a pathway to citizenship after a long waiting period, taxes and a penalty, a criminal background check and English-language requirement.

In Indiana, a poll sponsored by the Alliance for Citizenship, Partnership for a New American Economy and Republicans for Immigration Reform found 69 percent of Hoosiers said they strongly or somewhat support the bipartisan legislation under consideration in the Senate; 62 percent said they strongly or somewhat support a bill that includes a tough but fair path to citizenship.

“The results of this statewide poll should be yet another indication to our elected officials in Washington that their constituents want, and are ready for, a real and lasting solution to mend our broken immigration system,” said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “Comprehensive immigration reform is one of the rare issues that is both good politics and good policy. There is bipartisan support for the Senate bill that includes a path to citizenship.”

With arguments silenced and public support growing, it’s time to stop stalling with amendments and pass a sound, bipartisan bill.