immigration economics

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...

* Bribery, sometimes using fantastical amounts of money, and sometimes using very small amounts of money...

* 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.

Last modified Jun 3, 2011
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

CBO: Senate immigration bill means lower wages for millions of American for over a decade (S744, budget deficit) - 06/19/13

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report containing economic projections for the Senate amnesty bill S.744 (cbo . gov/publication/44346).

Richard Trumka admits his fellow amnesty supporters use immigration to lower wages (AFL CIO) - 05/31/13

Richard Trumka - president of the AFL CIO - admits that big business uses immigration to lower wages. But, at the same time, he continues to support their high immigration plans. From this: Policy proposals from multinational corporations often come with slick, poll-tested rhetoric. It is always worth digging deeper.

How is Gene Sperling misleading on economics and immigration reform? - 03/13/13

At the White House blog, Obama economic advisor Gene Sperling offers the highly misleading post "The Economic Case for Commonsense Immigration Reform" [1].

George W. Bush Institute on "Growth and Immigration" (Matthew Denhart) - 12/05/12

Yesterday, George W Bush returned to the public eye to promote massive immigration, saying ( ):

Sarah Jane Glynn of CAP hypes amnesty using studies from Cato, Bush, and the Fed - 07/09/12

In 2010, Rupert Murdoch testified for amnesty using two studies from the progressive Center for American Progress ("CAP").

USDA: millions fewer illegal aliens wouldn't devastate agriculture (farm labor supply economic models, guest workers) - 06/12/12

The table at [1] is from a Department of Agriculture study (link) showing the impacts of two different immigration scenarios:

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, [1]) 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 [1], report link at [2]. Since promoters of the study won't highlight another figure from the study, take a look at the chart (from [2]) below. Notice anything a bit disconcerting?

Ben Powell misleads about immigration (Suffolk University, Institute for Humane Studies, Youtube) - 06/04/11

Ben Powell - an economics professor at Boston's Suffolk University - offers the video "Top 3 Myths About Immigration"; how it misleads will be discussed below.

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 [1]. 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.

SF Federal Reserve promotes massive immigration, including illegal (Giovanni Peri) - 08/30/10

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 [1]). 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...

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.

Jeffrey Passel of Pew clueless why anyone cares about costs of illegal aliens - 05/21/10

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...

Viveca Novak of Fact Check misleads about immigration impact on jobs - 05/15/10

Viveca Novak of FactCheck offers "Does Immigration Cost Jobs? /Economists say immigration, legal or illegal, doesn't hurt American workers" ( 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:

Doris Meissner misleads, downplays border security's role in terrorism, uses bogus talking points - 05/02/10

Doris Meissner - former INS commissioner and now working for the Migration Policy Institute - takes to the pages of the Washington Post to offer "5 Myths about immigration" (link).

What Robert Reich won't discuss about immigration and entitlements - 04/11/10

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...

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 [1] [2]. The links between the two groups are close: if you visit you'll be redirected to, 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...

CIPC bogus immigration study: "immigrants" pay their way, more likely to be employed - 01/28/10

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 and an MSM report is here. Regarding the first, their report is unreliable from the beginning, saying that "43% of California...

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

America's Voice lies, misleads in "The Anti-Worker Truth About the Anti-Immigrant Lobby" - 12/13/09

Frank Sharry's America's Voice offers "The Anti-Worker Truth About the Anti-Immigrant Lobby" [1]. 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...

Fiscal Policy Institute, NY Daily News mislead about benefits of massive immigration - 11/30/09

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

Can you trust Arnold Kling's economic judgment? Find out. - 11/22/09

Independent economist and Cato Institute affiliate Arnold Kling comments on the recent Jeff Jacoby column and says ( 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...

IPC: 1986 amnesty was good (just not great) for those amnestied - 11/05/09

The Immigration Policy Center has released a report called "Economic Progress via Legalization: Lessons from the Last Legalization Program" [1] 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...

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”?' ( 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....

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", 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...

Immigration Policy Center absurd study claims immigration "reform" would help economy - 04/14/09

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) - part of the American Immigration Lawyers Association-linked American Immigration Law Foundation - has released a new, canard-rich study called "What Immigration Reform Could Mean for the U.S. Economy" (