Strengthening the Middle Class

As Congress again prepares to debate comprehensive immigration reform before the end of 2009, the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy releases “Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class: 2009 Edition,” building on our earlier immigration research.

In the depths of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Americans have nevertheless rejected the impulse to blame immigrants for their economic woes and instead show strong and growing support for legalizing undocumented immigrants. This report was written to encourage a new immigration reform package driven by the needs of the nation’s middle class and low-income American workers striving to stay afloat through the economic crisis and earn a middle-class standard of living.

We reveal that the American middle class relies on the economic contributions of immigrants both authorized and undocumented, but also that the exploitation of undocumented immigrant workers threatens to drive labor standards down for current and aspiring middle-class workers. Based on these findings, we propose a two-fold litmus test for evaluating immigration policy.