But despite our growing numbers, graduation and attainment rates for minorities are still lingering behind. By the end of this decade — 66 percent of jobs will already require at least some postsecondary education. But despite the demand for high-skilled workers, only 19 percent of Latinos, 23 percent of Native Americans, and 27 percent of African-Americans have college degrees — all considerably less than the rate of college degree attainment among whites (43 percent).
If that continues the skills gap that already exists will only widen.
The gap becomes even clearer when we realize that African-Americans and Hispanics make up 27 percent of the workforce today and by 2050 that will rise to 42 percent of the workforce. Clearly, we'll need to retool and rebuild to meet these challenges and find a workable framework for the development of partnerships based on equality and human capacity, giving every American a chance at a decent job, and a good education. It is time to get to work and realize the economic benefits and opportunities that come with diversity — and we can start with making sure we pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The Senate has worked across the aisle and taken a step forward — in a spirit of bipartisanship — to make sure there are no second-class citizens in this country, no one living in the shadows without a chance to contribute and make a better life for themselves. As a member of the Senate "Gang of Eight," I can tell you the process was difficult, but it ended with a bipartisan compromise that — I believe — would fix our broken immigration system and bring 11 million immigrants out of the shadows if we could get the House to act.
The fact is, fixing the broken immigration system would increase America's GDP by over $800 billion over 10 years. And it will increase wages of all Americans by $470 billion over 10 years and increase jobs by 121,000 per year. Immigrants will start small businesses. They'll create jobs for American workers. At the end of the day, we have to find a way to harness that economic power. The CBO reported that immigration reform could reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade and by another $700 billion more between 2024 and 2033 through changes in direct spending and revenues. We're talking about almost a trillion dollars in deficit spending that we can lift from the backs of the next generation. What other single piece of legislation increases GDP growth, increases wages, increases jobs and lowers the deficit?
But, clearly, we're not there yet. We have a lot of work left to do to get to comprehensive immigration reform, and the benefits that would flow from it. And, clearly, we have a lot to discuss today about making the "next America" a better, smarter, more innovative and productive America.