Before the debate on Comprehensive Immigration Reform begins, the White House issued a statement that they are not looking at passing reform this year but perhaps next year. While Comprehensive Immigration Reform has always been tied to national security concerns, there is a new and compelling theory linking Comprehensive Immigration Reform to our economic recovery. An opinion published by the Wall Street Journal Immigrants Can Help Fix the Housing Bubble, is very insightful and logical. It is written by Gary Shilling who is an economic consultant, and Richard LeFrak, a real estate developer. The article suggests that we should give legalization to immigrants who can afford buying homes. The excess inventory of homes currently at 2.4 million is a contributing factor to the current recession and a direct cause of a possible lingering recession until the excess inventory is depleted. Unless demand for homes is created or increased, it is anticipated that homeowners will be dealing with an additional average decrease in home value of 14% in addition to the average decline of 27% experienced since 2006. This may very well put near half the homeowners in the US in possible negative equity. Unless this trend is reversed, we are looking at more difficult times ahead. Immigrants or legalization can certainly provide the answer.
Granted such a program as a component to a comprehensive reform must be carefully drafted to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Such a program should be limited to those with financial ability or earning potential to afford buying and holding on to homes. The reality is, in excess of 600,000 such immigrants or potential immigrants already reside in he US either on H-1B visas or have employment based immigrant visa approvals awaiting visa availability. More than half of those immigrants are Engineers with excellent earning potential. There are also the undocumented, many of whom have good earnings, who are willing, ready an able to purchase homes if given the opportunity to have permanent status in the US.
For the sake of our economy, I would suggest that Comprehensive Immigration Reform should be considered sooner rather than later.