Vice President for State Fiscal Policy
More inclusive state proposals on unauthorized immigrants may gather momentum next year if the courts uphold President Obama’s executive actions allowing many to work legally in the United States. Our new paper highlights three sensible policies that can help produce a more educated workforce, ensure that more employers pay workers fairly, and generate more resources to pay for the schools and other public services that form a strong foundation for broadly shared prosperity:
States can do more to address labor law violations by hiring more wage law enforcement agents, stiffening penalties for violations, and scrapping outdated rules that exclude certain categories of workers from full protection, such as domestic workers.
Policies like these enable unauthorized immigrants to earn more and contribute more to a state’s economy and tax base and encourage higher-quality jobs rather than a “race to the bottom” in wages and working conditions.
Unauthorized immigrants, of course, operate outside of the mainstream economy because the federal government hasn’t given them permission to work in the United States. States can’t change that, but they can take a “high road” approach to their economies and make efforts to maximize the contributions of all state residents, including unauthorized immigrants.