WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's moves on immigration would expand the labor force and increase worker productivity, according to a White House report Friday that estimates average wages would rise over a 10-year period.
The president's critics and even some labor allies dispute that claim.
Obama's Council of Economic Advisers forecasts that as a result of his administrative actions, the gross domestic product would grow by $90 billion, or 0.4 percent, over 10 years, and wages would rise by 0.3 percent by 2024.
Obama's actions could spare nearly 5 million immigrants illegally in the U.S. from deportation and make them eligible for work permits.
The report aims to counter critics such as Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, who says Obama's moves would lower wages and cost American workers' jobs. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also says the president's effort to provide access to temporary visas could suppress wages in the high-tech sector.
White House economists said an increase in high-skilled immigration "would raise the real annual earnings of native college graduates by 0.4 percent by 2024."
An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last year of a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate concluded that bill would reduce all wages by an average of 0.1 percent over the first 10 years. That study said wages would then rise by 0.5 percent in 2033.
White House economists, however, said that the wage drop forecast in that report was driven by lower wages for immigrant.
The economists also said Obama's measures would increase the tax base by billions of dollars because two-thirds of immigrants illegally in the United States work but do not pay taxes. Under Obama's actions, immigrants who seek protection from deportation would receive a three-year work permit that would require them to pay federal, state and local taxes.