The question of what impact immigrants have on the US economy and workers is easily one of the main concerns people have. Not surprisingly, there is not always clear consensus. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a 500-page report that pooled and reviewed data from economists, professors, and specialists of immigration. The results were mixed, but here are some of the main points:
- Over the long-term, immigrants seem to be a net gain for the US economy-- including high-skilled immigrants who help to spur technological innovation.
- However, in the short-term, there is evidence that the first generation of immigrants costs (mostly) state governments more money especially in terms of education for the children (although this is offset as the immigrant second and third generation become workers who ultimately contribute to the economy)
- There is also some evidence that new immigrants compete with workers at the bottom of the economy (especially those who do not have a high school diploma and other prior immigrants) and depress wages for this group.
Despite the negatives, the report came down squarely on the side of immigration as a positive contribution to the US. Nonetheless, there are no easy answers and reporting on this topic tends to emphasize the outcomes that support people's preexisting views. In light of the pros and cons, how should we think about immigration policy? What should we base it on? Is economic impact the only thing we should consider when legislating immigration policy or are there other equally important issues such as social justice?
Here are links to several articles dealing with this topic.
- Full 500-page report (buy, download PDF, or read online)
- The Washington Times - Mass immigration costs government $296 billion a year, depresses wages
- NYT - Immigrants Aren’t Taking Americans’ Jobs, New Study Finds
- NYT - What Does Immigration Actually Cost Us?
- USNews & World Report - The Economic Costs of Immigration
- 'USNews & World Report - 'Undocumented' Immigrants Pay Billions in Taxes