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Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Report Finds Illegal Immigration Has Negligible Impact on U.S. Economy Despite Benefit to Employers, Unauthorized Workers
Report Finds Illegal Immigration Has Negligible Impact on U.S. Economy Despite Benefit to Employers, Unauthorized Workers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Michelle Mittelstadt   
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 21:08


W ASHINGTON
– Illegal immigration's overall impact on the U.S. economy is negligible, despite clear benefits for employers and unauthorized immigrants and slightly depressed wages for low-skilled native workers, according to a report by a University of California, San Diego
economist released today by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

The report,
The Economics and Policy of Illegal Immigration in the United States, authored by UC-San Diego Professor of Economics Gordon Hanson, examines the effect of illegal immigration on the economy. The paper was commissioned to inform the work of MPI's Labor Markets Initiative, which is conducting a comprehensive, policy-focused review of the role of legal and illegal immigration in the labor market.

In the report, Hanson argues that the largest economic gains from illegal immigration flow to unauthorized workers, who see very-substantial income gains after migrating. (A young urban male in
Mexico who has completed nine years of education can earn 2.5 times as much annually in the United States, even after controlling for cost-of-living differences.)

U.S.
employers also gain from lower labor costs and the ability to use their land, capital and technology more productively. Small losses are felt, however, by native-born low-skilled workers who compete with unauthorized immigrants.

"Illegal immigration produces a tiny net gain to the
U.S. economy after subtracting U.S.-born workers' losses from U.S. employers' gains," said Hanson, who is Director of the Center on Pacific Economies at UC-San Diego. "And if we account for the small fiscal burden that unauthorized immigrants impose, the overall economic benefit is close enough to zero to be essentially a wash." But policy can help to convert illegal to legal flows, increasing the positive contribution that low-skilled workers could make to the U.S. economy.

 

Notwithstanding all of the public focus and controversy surrounding illegal immigration, the fate of the U.S. economy is not riding on the country's policy toward unauthorized workers. – MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix



E mployers would be more likely to favor authorized workers, the report argues, if the legal low-skilled immigration system responded more effectively to their needs. Illegal immigration, which broadly tracks economic performance, provides a flexible mechanism for responding to labor market conditions in ways the current legal immigration system cannot. Legal flows for low-skilled workers are both very small and relatively unresponsive to economic conditions, with green cards almost entirely unavailable to low-skilled workers and the two main low-skilled temporary visa programs (H-2A and H-2B) varying little over the economic cycle. Only roughly 150,000 workers are in the United States legally at any one time on temporary low-skilled visas – a fraction compared to the 8.3-million unauthorized immigrants working in the United States.

Unauthorized immigrants provide a ready source of manpower in low-end sectors at a time when the share of low-skilled native-born individuals in the
U.S.
labor force has fallen dramatically. Over the last 50 years, the United States has raised the education level of its adult population dramatically, with half of U.S.-born working-age adults in 1960 lacking a high-school diploma compared to just 8-percent now, the report notes.

A more-constructive immigration policy, Hanson suggests, would aim to generate maximum productivity gains to the
U.S.
economy while limiting the fiscal cost and keeping enforcement spending contained. He recommends a policy redesign that provides sufficient legal channels, fluctuating with economic needs, for entry of low-skilled workers while maintaining reasonable immigration enforcement.

"The report offers an interesting reminder that notwithstanding all of the public focus and controversy surrounding illegal immigration, the fate of the
U.S. economy is not riding on the country's policy toward unauthorized workers," said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix. "However, as policymakers contemplate immigration reform, they should be mindful of creating a system that provides the workers necessary for the U.S.
economy in a legal fashion that flexibly tracks labor market needs."

The report is available at
www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/Hanson -Dec09.pdf. For more on the Labor Markets Initiative, visit www.migrationpolicy.org/lmi.

###

 

T he Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels.

 

Migration Policy Institute
Stay up to date on MPI's events and newest publications.

MPI Data Hub
Find the latest immigration statistics, maps, and numbers for the
United States and other countries.

Migration Information Source
Read a unique, online journal that provides fresh thought and global analysis of international migration and refugee trends.




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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 December 2009 21:11
 
Comments (2)
1 Monday, 07 December 2009 23:49
THIS IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS ARTICLE I HAVE EVER READ. WE HAVE 14 MILLION AMERICANS WITHOUT A JOB BUT THERE IS AN EQUIVALENT AMOUNT OF ILLEGAL ALIENS WHO ARE WORKING. GUESS WHO HAS STOLEN OUR JOBS! ILLEGALS (THEY ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM) STEAL OUR MEDICAL TREATMENT AND TONS OF HOSPITALS HAVE GONE OUT OF BUSINESS. OUR SCHOOLS ARE OVERWHELMED. I HAVE HEARD THE MEXICAN CONSULATE ADVISES THEIR MEXICAN ILLEGALS ON WHAT ALL THEY CAN SCAM FROM US! A MEXICAN POLITICIAN WAS ASKED YEARS AGO HOW MEXICO WAS GOING TO DRAIN THE U.S. THEY ASKED HIM "HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT? (WE BEING THE ELEPHANT!). HIS ANSWER? "PIECE BY PIECE" THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND HAVE AN AGENDA TO TAKE OVER THE U.S. STARTING WITH THE SW WHICH THEY ONLY OWNED FOR 24 YEARS (ALTHO THEY LIE THAT THEY OWNED IT FOR THOUSANDS. THE ONLY ONES WHO OWNED IT FOR THOUSANDS WERE THE AMERICAN INDIANS AND THERE WERE PEOPLE HERE BEFORE THEM, ALSO! IN 2006 AN ARTICLE CAME OUT SAYING ILLEGALS HAD COMMITTED OVER 1 MILLION SEX CRIMES. ANOTHER ARTICLE CAME OUT THAT 83% OF ALL CHILD MOLESTATIONS ARE COMMITTED BY ILLEGALS. THIS IS CRIME OVER AND ABOVE WHAT WE HAVE. WE DO NOT NEED NOR WANT OTHER COUNTRIES' CRIMES. WE HAVE BEEN SPENDING $346 BILLION A YEAR ON ILLEGALS AND THEIR SCAMS. WE ARE NOW TRILLIONS IN DEBT WITH MILLIONS OF AMERICANS UNEMPLOYED. THESE PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE & THEIR COUNTRIES RETURN THE MONEY THEY HAVE BEEN SENDING OUT OF OURS!
2 Friday, 01 January 2010 03:49
HI JUSTICEFORALL, I am amazed on the figures you mentioned.I agree with you. Besides, these illegals are mocking the legislature targeting these immigrants as if the teeth of the law is so blunt that these illegals continue to exist with the US economy at stake.Not only that these illegals are concerned.Collectively, their families in their own country are living conveniently and generally lives a proud and boastful life.
Can you help me report one illegal immigrant there?We are so affected by the sudden boasting of his wife and child ever since he(my neighbor form the Philippines) got there(now illegal) since 1993(?).pls email me This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ...

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