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These Immigrants Pay Their Way

They have jobs as varied as the countries they come from, but according to the new study America's 25 million legal immigrants have one thing in common. They are great for the economy, CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports.

Stephen Moore, the study's author, said, "I think that many think immigrants take jobs from American citizens and that many immigrants are on welfare. We are finding just the opposite."

The CATO Institute, the conservative think tank that sponsored the study, makes a distinction between illegal immigrants in low-paying jobs and legal immigrants who pay more taxes than native citizens, run businesses that create jobs and pay heavily into Social Security coffers.

On the whole the reports call immigrants "a fiscal bargain."

"After 10-15 years in the United States the average immigrant is making more money than the average American," Moore said.

It's no surprise to Olvidiu Colea, he fled Romania 20 years ago with only a quarter in his pocket. Last year he earned nearly a half a million dollars in profits running a factory that makes lucite scuptures.

"You come in this country you don't come to wait for someone to give you a check from welfare," Colea said. "You come to do something with your own life in this country."

Colea employs 35 people, giving them overtime and health care. But his story is only one example of how immigrants effect the economy. Critics of the CATO Institute research say it's not always such a happy picture.

"If you are a low skilled worker in the United States that is the working poor, immigration is generally bad for you," Steven Camarota, Center for Immigration spokesman said. "If you are an employer and you'd like access to cheap labor immigration is generally good for you."

With roughly a million new immigrants coming to America every year, their economic impact will continue to be debated. Authors of this study hope to influence American opinion by showing that our diverse cultural heritage, may be the key to our economic future.