Economics and immigration
Supporters of massive and illegal immigration frequently use economic studies to mislead. Sometimes the studies themselves are misleading, such as using bogus methodologies. However, mostly the studies are just used to come to misleading conclusions. Some of the ways they mislead or are used to mislead include:
* Lumping all forms of immigration together and ignoring the large differences between low-skilled and high-skilled immigration...
* Using absurd methodologies...
* And, last but not by any means least, ignoring all the costs of massive immigration. For instance, promoters of a study will claim that massive immigration has a low cost or that it represents a gain. What those promoters will fail to note is that the study they're promoting only discussed direct fiscal costs. No study has ever tried to put a price tag on all the indirect fiscal costs and all the non-fiscal costs. For instance, higher immigration does drive some Americans out of work, and some of those go on to commit crimes they would not have otherwise committed. Those crimes (and any resulting incarceration, increased welfare use by relatives of the perpetrator, and so on) have a cost which economic studies don't include in their balance sheets. Massive low-skilled immigration gives even more political power to the far-left, and that too has a cost to the great majority of Americans who aren't in the far-left. It also gives more power inside the U.S. to foreign countries, such as the Mexican government (see the hundreds of posts at that link). Massive immigration also takes political power away from native-born Americans, and not just as naturalized citizens vote but also since a small number of illegal aliens do vote and especially since illegal aliens count towards Congressional representation. Some supposed U.S. legislators occasionally represent the interests of foreign citizens (see Gil Cedillo, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Martin Sandoval for starters); that has a cost. And, the main reason illegal immigration is allowed is because our elites are corrupt: they hope to benefit in one way or another from illegal immigration whether monetarily or electorally. Our elites being corrupt has a huge, non-fiscal cost to the U.S. and leads those elites to promote policies that don't serve the interests of the great majority of Americans. No economic studies of immigration include all of those and more as costs.
Richard Trumka admits his fellow amnesty supporters use immigration to lower wages (AFL CIO) - 05/31/13
Policy proposals from multinational corporations often come with slick, poll-tested rhetoric. It is always worth digging deeper.
At the White House blog, Obama economic advisor Gene Sperling offers the highly misleading post "The Economic Case for Commonsense Immigration Reform" .
Yesterday, George W Bush returned to the public eye to promote massive immigration, saying ( peekURL.com/zjd4VCT ):
Support high immigration? Explain these shocking charts (labor force participation rates by age, gender, ethnicity) - 10/13/11
Here's a challenge for supporters and enablers of massive or illegal immigration: explain these shocking charts.
The charts (from the Department of Labor's BLS, ) show the labor force participation rate for various ethnicities, genders, and ages, with steady drops for most groups and especially for men, blacks, and youths. Note that the rates for Asians and white women has held mostly steady over the past decade.
Most new Texas jobs went to immigrants, legal and illegal (Rick Perry; who to blame; what to do) - 09/22/11
A new study (link) shows that most of the new jobs created in Texas - Rick Perry's "Texas Miracle" - went to immigrants and not native-born workers. And, about half of those immigrants who got jobs are illegal aliens.
This is somewhat bad news for Rick Perry, despite the fact that he's only partly responsible. Below I'll tell you who should bear most of the responsibility and what you can do about this.
World Bank: immigration would increase global income $356 billion by 2025; see what they won't highlight - 07/18/11
A 2005 report by the World Bank made the claim that increasing migration from low-income countries to high-income countries enough to increase the labor force in high-income countries by 3% would result in raising global incomes $356 billion by 2025. Press release at , report link at .
Since promoters of the study won't highlight another figure from the study, take a look at the chart (from ) below. Notice anything a bit disconcerting?
CBO estimate: anti-American DREAM Act would reduce deficit $140 million a year (i.e., by 0.001%) - 12/02/10
The current U.S. deficit is $13,840,173,213,129 . Per a new Congressional Budget Office estimate, the anti-American DREAM Act would reduce that by around $140,000,000 per year over the next ten years. Over that ten years, per the CBO, the DREAM Act would reduce the deficit by 0.01% from its current value, a miniscule amount.
The San Francisco branch of the Federal Reserve offers "The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity" by visiting scholar Giovanni Peri of UC Davis (Wall Street Journal article here, the brief study at ). According to Peri, we're all rich beyond our wildest dreams due to massive immigration:
"There is no evidence that immigrants crowd out U.S.-born workers in either the short or long run... "the economy absorbs immigrants by expanding job opportunities rather than by displacing workers born in the United States." ...Peri's work estimates that an inflow of immigrants equal to 1% of employment boosts income per individual by 0.6% to 0.9%. On a larger scale, "total immigration to the United States from 1990 to 2007 was associated with a 6.6% to 9.9% increase in real income per worker." ...Peri says that gain "equals an increase of about $5,100 in the yearly income of the average U.S. worker in constant 2005 dollars” for a gain that equals “20% to 25% of the total real increase in average yearly income per worker registered in the United States between 1990 and 2007."
Note also that he doesn't differentiate between legal and illegal immigration or between, say, low-wage low-skilled workers and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Would any benefits to Americans of the latter be masking costs by the former?
Peri also refers to the "average U.S. worker" when the benefits of massive immigration probably skew towards those with higher incomes. Would the gains by, say, construction company owners be masking losses by, say, U.S. citizen drywall workers?
Note that his study only looks at income and not at costs, such as spending on welfare programs, education, and so on for illegal aliens or their children. And, of course, his study doesn't look at the costs of giving the Mexican government even more power inside the U.S. or of political corruption. In fact, that's something that he admitted to me he didn't look at or concern himself with in any earlier study (link).
Paul Krugman exposes "jobs Americans won't do", has "uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration" - 05/28/10
I posted a paragraph of this back in March 2006 when it first appeared, but it's worth revisiting the Paul Krugman column here [see UPDATE] where he exposes the "jobs Americans wont do" talking point for what it is and raises issues with massive illegal immigration, particularly of low-wage workers.
Dalia Fahmy of ABC News offers "Expensive Aliens: How Much Do Illegal Immigrants Really Cost?" (link), an article similar in scope to the recently-discussed misleading article by FactCheck. She's slightly more balanced then the other article, but this at the end jumps out:
Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, takes the debate one step further. He points out that most attempts to find a meaningful number are usually futile, since the data are so difficult to collect. And anyway, he says, what is the point?
"We don't generally ask these questions about anybody else," says Passel. He points out that using the "cost" argument, one could make a case against parents who generally benefit more from public schools than the taxes they pay. "It's not a subject that there is a definitive answer to."
Obviously, the reason why people ask that question is because illegal aliens aren't supposed to be here. There are plenty of Americans who we'd be very lucky if they picked up and moved to another country, but we can't force them to leave. Foreign citizens who are here illegally are a different matter entirely: if enough people worked at it in an intelligent and effective fashion, we could encourage many or most to return home. That's the goal of things like the new Arizona immigration law; perhaps Passel needs to pay more attention to current events.
Viveca Novak of FactCheck offers "Does Immigration Cost Jobs? /Economists say immigration, legal or illegal, doesn't hurt American workers" (factcheck.org/2010/05/does-immigration-cost-jobs). It's yet another misleading attempt to try to convince people that what they see happening with their own eyes is not happening.
1. It includes this highly misleading claim:
Robert Reich - of the "white male construction workers" quote fame - offers "Immigration: Could it solve Social Security, Medicare woes? /To keep Social Security and Medicare from running out of money, the US will have to raise taxes, lower benefits, or cut other spending. Or it could boost immigration" (link). There are at least a couple things he won't discuss and his economic judgment is more than a bit questionable. He says:
Forty years ago there were five workers for every retiree. Now there are three. Within a couple of decades, there will be only two workers per retiree. There’s no way just two workers will be able or willing to pay enough payroll taxes to keep benefits flowing to every retiree... This is where immigration comes in. Most immigrants are young because the impoverished countries they come from are demographically the opposite of rich countries. Rather than aging populations, their populations are bursting with young people... One logical way to deal with the crisis of funding Social Security and Medicare is to have more workers per retiree, and the simplest way to do that is to allow more immigrants into the United States... Immigration reform and entitlement reform have a lot to do with one another.
1. As with the other entries on the immigration economics page, Reich isn't considering all the costs involved with his scheme. What if that massive immigration has other costs - fiscal or not - that outweigh any benefits? That mass immigration will give even more power inside the U.S. to foreign governments and the far-left. Even if someone thinks the second isn't an issue (or supports it), the first isn't debatable: it reduces the political power that U.S. citizens have. That's one of the very many costs that Reich isn't factoring in to his equation.
2. An amnesty - "comprehensive immigration reform" - would primarily benefit low-wage, low-skilled Mexicans and others from Latin America. They and their descendants - considering all of them as a group and not discussing individual cases - are not going to be making huge amounts of money or creating large numbers of new jobs. Would they be able to sustain their "assigned number of retirees" (per Reich's formula above)? Even if you think they would, wouldn't accepting only high-skilled immigrants be the wiser choice, if your only goal is to pay for entitlements? Wouldn't higher-skilled workers be able to sustain a greater number of retirees? If, for instance, we could trade a million low-wage illegal aliens from Mexico for high-tech workers from India, wouldn't we all be in the chips? I have a feeling that Reich would flee frantically from questions along those lines.
3. Why exactly does Reich think that those who aren't white would be willing to support an aging white population? Let's start at the college professor who made the "aging white population" quote. Can anyone see him or those like him twenty years from now supporting anything beyond the barest of entitlements to those like Robert Reich? Wouldn't it be more likely that those only slightly less radical - the heirs of those like Gil Cedillo or Fabian Nunez - would (using code words) move to shrink benefits to aged whites in order to give them to other Hispanics? I have a feeling Reich would flee frantically from such questions too.
Illinois Business Immigration Coalition: Republican gov. Jim Edgar joins with Mexico-linked ICIRR - 04/09/10
Former Illinois governor Jim Edgar - a Republican - has joined with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights - a group whose president is linked to the Mexican government - to form the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition  . The links between the two groups are close: if you visit icirr.org/Business you'll be redirected to illinoisbic.biz/get_involved.html, and in the videos below you'll note the ICIRR background. And:
[The IBIC is] an iniative [sic] spearheaded by the Illinois Coailition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The coalition includes over 200 businesses that "support comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes the current undocumented workforce, creates new legal channels for future foreign workers and implements smart and effective enforcement measures." ...While it's rare to see a high-profile Illinois Republican standing with ICIRR and the immigrant rights community, it shouldn't be surprising in this particular case. Since 2008, Edgar has been warning his GOP colleagues that they oppose immigration reform efforts at their own peril. Talking to reporters after the event today, he did the same, saying that this could be a "disastrous political issue for the Republican Party if we are viewed as anti-immigration."
Why are a Republican and over 200 businesses joining with a far-left group whose president (Juan Salgado) clearly has divided loyalties, if he has any to the U.S. at all? Shouldn't Republicans oppose such groups rather than collaborating with them?
On the video at peekURL.com/v9nvlau (part of the longer version available here: peekURL.com/vviftrt )Edgar says among many other things:
“It is impractical to think that we can deport 12 million people. We have to face reality, we have to deal with those 12 million people. To deport would cost billions and billions of dollars in taxes that we don't have. And, it would cost trillions of dollars to our economy we cannot afford to lose... [the more important reason for "reform" is] this is America, this is a nation that was built on immigrants..."
See deportations false choice and immigration tradition fallacy and the posts in immigration economics for why that's wrong, and note also that Edgar seems to be parroting a highly-flawed study from the far-left Center for American Progress for his claim about the costs of mass deportations (not that anyone in a position of power is suggesting that of course; see the first link in this paragraph). Given that he's just spouting false or misleading talking points, can you trust Jim Edgar?
Just in case you do, see peekURL.com/v179ri3 where he sticks up for John McCain's immigration position and for George W Bush's amnesty plan and then plays the "Whig card", claiming that it could be "disastrous" for the Republican Party if they're viewed as "anti-immigration". The only people doing that are the far-left and their helpers like Jim Edgar. If you're a Republican, he's not on your side: he's helping the Democrats and the far-left gain more political power at the same time as he's helping them falsely portray the GOP. He also says that "we need to make sure that that position [that of McCain and Bush]] becomes the majority position in the Republican Party."
 icirr.org/en/reform-immigration-america/business-adds-voice-call-reform/4576 A quote source at that link is Billy Lawless, identified as a "business owner and board member of the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights"; he is or was the head of Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, which were mentioned here.
The California Immigrant Policy Center (see who they are below) has released a new and highly misleading immigration booster study purporting to claim that immigrants in California pay their way and that they're employed at a greater rate than non-immigrants. The second might be true, and in that case that's an argument against massive immigration since some or many are taking jobs that Americans could be doing. You can get the PDF at caimmigrant.org/contributions.html and an MSM report is here.
Regarding the first, their report is unreliable from the beginning, saying that "43% of California’s immigrants are citizens", despite the fact that immigrant who were naturalized are no longer immigrants, they're citizens and citizens alone. Not only does their definition of "immigrants" include those who are no longer immigrants, but they make no distinction as to status, lumping illegal aliens together with legal immigrants and naturalized citizens. For instance, they lump in a very large number of low-skilled, low-education illegal aliens together with a small number of highly-skilled legal immigrants:
Immigrants stand out as some of California’s most notable entrepreneurs - technology giants Google, Sun Microsystems, eBay and Yahoo! are all companies founded or co-founded by immigrants.
What their study does is akin to averaging the net worth of all top executives of high-tech firms based in Redmond and claiming that every such executive is a billionaire, without noting that Bill Gates' net worth might skew the results just a little bit.
And, the study is truly a Bowl Moment. California is temporarily on the rocks, and a good part of the reason is due to massive immigration. One would have to be willfully ignorant not to see the highly deleterious impact that massive immigration has had on California's schools, highways, and general quality of life.
The author of the study is Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. The four organizations that make up the CIPC are CHIRLA, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and the Services Immigrant Rights Education Network.
UCLA CAP IPC deceptive study: immigration reform would increase GDP by $1.5 trillion over 10 years - 01/07/10
Earlier today, the Center for American Progress, the Immigration Policy Center, and professor Raul Hinojosa Ojeda of the University of California at Los Angeles released a study making the deceptive and fantastical claim that legalizing all illegal aliens would increase Gross Domestic Product by $1.5 trillion over 10
Frank Sharry's America's Voice offers "The Anti-Worker Truth About the Anti-Immigrant Lobby" . From their summary:
In recent months, some of the most virulent anti-immigrant Members of Congress have been taking advantage of hard economic times to advance their same, old mass deportation agenda. They argue that blocking comprehensive immigration reform would somehow help the American worker and furthermore, that an unrealistic, multi-billion dollar mass deportation plan would provide instant relief to hardworking Americans in need of good jobs.
But a closer look at the voting records of these Members shows them to be some of the most consistent opponents of legislation to benefit American workers. And analysis of their immigration policy proposals reveals their main goal to be expelling millions of Latinos, Asians, Haitians, Africans, and other immigrants from the United States, not leveling the playing field for all workers and expanding the tax base. When it comes to protecting the American worker, the anti-immigrant lobby simply has no legs to stand on.
1. While they do pretend that comprehensive immigration reform would help Americans, they're also more or less implicitly ceding the point of those Members of Congress, that reducing the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. would help Americans. That's why they're using the deportations false choice: because they can't present an argument that a gradual reduction in the number of illegal aliens would somehow hurt American workers.
2. Few - and I would guess none among the referenced Members of Congress - are calling for mass deportations; more on that in #5.
3. No one with any power wants to expel "immigrants", i.e., those who came here legally; America's Voice is trying to mislead their readers.
4. Part of their report consists of the same old debunked smears of FAIR and related groups, such as by using the "hate group" designations of the Southern Poverty Law Center, not exactly a trustworthy source.
5. Their section on the costs of deportations references the Center for American Progress' "Deporting the Undocumented", a joke study that used a highly-flawed methodology. It also mentions the misleading, business-sponsored Perryman Group study that was briefly mentioned in the second footnote here and the misleading Cato Institute study discussed here. For both of the last, America's Voice tries to pretend they aren't on the same side as cheap labor employers, not revealing the business ties of the Perryman study and of the last saying: Even the conservative Cato Institute has said that "legalization of low-skilled immigrant workers would yield significant income gains for American workers and households."
6. Consider the following:
Sending an out-of-work auto worker and her family in Michigan to pick strawberries in California is not a credible answer to the many Americans desperately in need of good jobs at high wages with good benefits. Rather than promoting a race to the bottom, comprehensive immigration reform would expand labor rights and create a level playing field to ensure better jobs and working conditions for all.
That has an un-American and anti-Mexican subtext, as if only Mexicans and Central Americans are able to pick crops and as if Americans are too good to take bad jobs until the economy improves, even if it involves moving to a different state. The latter is a rather un-American idea.
And, in most cases, Americans wouldn't have to move far at all. Reducing the number of illegal aliens in Michigan would free up jobs for Americans, and likewise with California. And, regarding the fallacy of that "level playing field", see immigration wage floor.
The Fiscal Policy Institute has released a new report called "Contribution of Immigrant Workers to the Country's 25 Largest Metropolitan Areas"; it was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation and a Service Employees International Union local and you can get the PDF at fiscalpolicy.org/immigration.html.
If you had a store that was the only place people could go to buy bread, and people had to wait for hours to get to the checkout counter, some ordinarily honest people would end up stealing out of frustration. We need to fix the checkout counter in our immigration store. Right now, the people our system hurts the most are the people who try to get in legally.
Because I've had problems with comments left there in the past and I may have been banned, I didn't spend too much time on the following comment I left. I got an error message after leaving the comment, probably indicating that I've been banned for showing how he and Bryan Caplan are wrong too many times:
...and, eventually millions of those "ordinarily honest people" would "end up stealing out of frustration", despite the fact that they had no right to the bread in the first place. And, that would build a culture of illegality, impacting everyone in the neighborhood. And, their gov't would encourage them to steal. And, some "cops" (actually, U.S. politicians) would in effect be paid off to look the other way, leading to corrupting the whole system.
Perhaps economists should look at everything involved in what they promote.
See the "column" link above for all the other things Kling doesn't understand.
The Immigration Policy Center has released a report called "Economic Progress via Legalization: Lessons from the Last Legalization Program"  which points out that the 1986 amnesty helped those amnestied improve their situations. However, there's little in their report that's remarkable and they don't take into account the balance between the benefits and costs of the amnesty; everything's always great when it comes to amnesty. On the one hand, those amnestied may have led to increased economic activity and that might have helped others. On the other hand, the cost to those others of competition for their jobs led to reduced wages. And, of course, all the other costs; see below.
Theirs is yet another in the long line of bogus economic studies designed to encourage comprehensive immigration reform. They don't take into account what would have happened if those amnestied had instead been encouraged to return home: the Mexican government and far-left racial power groups would have less power inside the U.S. than they do now, we'd have less illegal immigration (it's increased in part due to the network effect; Mexicans arriving here illegally know they have a support structure in place), and our own low-wage workers' wages would be higher. In fact, they as much as acknowledge the last (note that their report concentrates on what they call "IRCA immigrants", which they define as "Mexican immigrants of different age groups who came to the United States during the 1975 - 1981 period"):
But the fact remains that the data indicate that the IRCA population improved its status both as a group and compared to natives.
Good for them, not so good for the rest of us; we know which side the IPC is on.
The most "dramatic" change they offer is: "By 2006, only half as many IRCA immigrants were below the poverty line as in 1990." Meanwhile: "Use of public assistance among IRCA immigrants remained largely unchanged overall" We're also informed that the "home ownership rates [of IRCA immigrants] improved tremendously". Perhaps considering the mortgage meltdown the IPC should have kept that to themselves. In fact, little in the report presents amnesties as that beneficial to the U.S., and there are all those costs the IPC will never mention. If you want to throw the IPC for a loop, ask them to do similar reports on those from other countries, or ask them to give a full accounting of all the costs and benefits of amnesty.
Federal Reserve to unemployed millions: massive immigration is great for you (Tobias Madden) - 09/22/09
Tobias Madden - a Regional Economist for the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis - offers an "Economic Myth Busters" sales job asking, 'should policymakers curb immigration to “protect American jobs”?' (minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/pub_display.cfm?id=4277)
In a nutshell, no. This myth stems from the idea that the number of jobs in America is fixed, and every job taken by an immigrant reduces the total number of available jobs, always to the detriment of native-born workers. This overlooks some valuable economic contributions from immigration on both the supply of and demand for labor.
Right now, the number of jobs in the U.S. is fixed or falling. If, say, there were a million fewer low-wage illegal aliens in the U.S. their absence would reduce spending, but at the same time Americans would be able to step in and take the jobs they're doing. That would also have many other benefits, such as reducing the power inside the U.S. of the Mexican government, striking back at attempts to gain race-based power, minimizing the dependence of able-bodied workers on government assistance, encouraging innovation (such as agricultural machinery), encourage people to better understand how valuable U.S. citizenship is, encourage reforms in foreign countries, and on and on and on.
From the other side of the ledger, the most Madden can point to is this:
In 1997 the National Research Council estimated that immigrant labor conferred net benefits of anywhere from $1 billion to $10 billion per year on the native-born population.
Nowadays, $10 billion is almost nothing; Obama probably spent a couple billion before lunch.
So, the question becomes, why is the Federal Reserve promoting things like this rather than promoting reducing immigration and reaping the far greater benefits outlined above and elsewhere?
CATO promotes financial gain from illegal alien amnesty, ignores massive non-financial costs (Peter Dixon, Maureen Rimmer) - 08/14/09
Peter Dixon and Maureen Rimmer of the CATO Institute have a study promoting the supposed economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform aka amnesty ("Restriction or Legalization? Measuring the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform", freetrade.org/pubs/pas/tpa-040es.html). As with other "economic" studies, theirs isn't really based in economics in that they're ignoring all the costs of what they promote:
A policy that reduces the number of low-skilled immigrant workers by 28.6 percent compared to projected levels would reduce U.S. household welfare by about 0.5 percent, or $80 billion... In contrast... [t]he positive impact for U.S. households of legalization under an optimal visa tax would be 1.27 percent of GDP or $180 billion.
If we (incorrectly) assume that the costs and gains would be spread equally among the population and assuming there are 117 million U.S. households, the figures are about a $57/month loss versus about a $128/month gain. Can you see amnesty making you an extra $128 a month? Not to mention the fact that any gains wouldn't be spread equally. Those at the low end of the wage scale would see increased competition, and most of the gains would go to, for instance, those who own industries that employ large numbers of low-wage workers (and that might also donate to CATO).
And, of course, there are huge costs associated with amnesty that CATO isn't figuring in. Giving the Mexican government even more power inside the U.S. has a huge cost. Giving the far-left and racial power groups (like the National Council of La Raza) even more power has a huge cost. Increasing disrespect for our laws has a huge cost. Increasing the incentive to move here illegally has a huge cost.
And, Peter Dixon and Maureen Rimmer aren't including all those costs and more in their "economic" analysis.