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PHOENIX -- The Arizona economy will benefit enormously should immigration reform be passed, a new study said.

According to the Phoenix New Times, Arizona's economy would grow by $500 million over a five-year period should Congress act on immigration.

A report from the Morrison Institute of Public Policy said the financial gain could begin in 2026, the soonest immigrants would be able to become citizens.

"Generally speaking," says Mike Slaven, a policy analyst and the study's author, "having more people out of the shadows is better and will increase the size of the economy."

The report did not consider other economical factors and solely focused on granting current illegal immigrants legal status. Those workers would theoretically see an 8 to 11 percent increase in salary.

"They can compete for jobs that only citizens are eligible for," Slaven says. "The other reason is that employers tend to be more willing to invest in skills if their employee is an American citizen."

The report said that, should Arizona's illegal workforce of 190,000 people be legalized, the state would gain $1.17 for every $1 those workers earn.

Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes, Mon-Fri., 9a-12p on 92.3 KTAR

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