WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The White House said Tuesday immigration reform is not only the right thing to do, it would also add significantly to the U.S. gross domestic product.
"Our country is stronger when everyone has a stake, everyone pays their taxes and fulfills their responsibilities, and everyone is equally invested in our common future," the White House said in a report titled, "Fixing Our Broken Immigration System."
"We all know that today we have an immigration system that's out of date and badly broken. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship," the report quotes President Barack Obama as saying in January, eight days after his second inauguration.
The report says 11 million undocumented immigrants are in the United States, and this group would pay higher taxes and start more businesses if they were allowed full rights as citizens. Their wages would also rise if granted citizenship, the report says.
New citizens would travel more, given their access to U.S. passports that would allow them to cross borders freely, the report said.
In part, undocumented immigrants currently create a "shadow economy," the White House said.
If they came out of the shadows, the country's GDP would climb by $1.4 trillion over 10 years, "increase total income for all Americans by $791 billion, generate $184 billion in additional state and federal tax revenue ... and add about 2 million jobs to the U.S. economy," the report says.
The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy estimates the undocumented "would pay as much as $2 billion per year in additional state and local taxes -- beyond the $11 billion in taxes these workers already pay each year."
Immigration reform would also reduce the federal deficit by $850 billion over the next 10 years, the report says.
Obama is currently pushing for an "earned citizenship approach," which would allow for full citizenship for immigrants who paid all fines and taxes they might owe, learned English, learned the responsibilities of citizenship and went "to the back of the line" when they applied.
In 2012, 757,000 persons were naturalized as citizens, symbolic of the increases over the years. From 2000 through 2009, an average of 680,000 nationalizations took place each year.
"We cannot afford a system that creates a group which can never become fully American, denying equal rights to people who pay the same taxes and play by the same rules even after they've paid a penalty and gotten on the right side of the law," the report said.