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Allowing Unauthorized Immigrants to Learn and Earn Legally Will Help the Economy

Uploaded: Apr 11, 2014
There are approximately 2.5 million unauthorized immigrant residents in California of which approximately 1.5 million are working and another 300,000 or so are children.

If they are allowed to learn and earn (study and work) legally, it would benefit them and the overall state economy. In this blog I am not raising issues of citizenship or eligibility for safety net program benefits but merely the right to pay tuition and go to college and work and pay taxes legally—i.e., out of the shadows.

Some of these working age residents will probably work in low wage jobs for a long time. But some of them already have skills that would earn higher wages and help employers if they were allowed to work legally. In addition some could benefit from training if they were eligible for the training and then could use their higher skills.

And all of the children could benefit as would our economy if they are allowed to learn and earn legally. This is the basis for efforts to help these "Dreamers"—residents who were brought to this country as children.

In our Bay Area work on mobility for low and moderate wage workers, we identified projects and models that are operating successfully but at a small scale—30, 50 or 100 people helped at a time.

Here is a chance to improve the mobility chances for some of the 400,000 to 500,000 unauthorized immigrants in the Bay Area and many more statewide.

The term unauthorized immigrant is the current official designation used by the Department of Homeland Security under the first President Bush. The prior official designation was undocumented immigrant. Please use either of these designations if you wish to reply to this blog. Thanks.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 11:00 am

Could you please elaborate on how your proposal for education differs from the Dream Act?

Could you please elaborate on what would prevent millions more unauthorized immigrants from taking advantage of employment opportunities in California?

Can you elaborate on how your proposal differs from existing visas for foreign workers such as H-2A?

The problem is that whenever such an amnesty is offered, it rewards those who broke the law, and it gives hope of future amnesties - such that parents continue to bring/send their children to the US in hopes that a future amnesty would make them legal.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

{portion deleted}




Levy's claim about helping the economy is perhaps valid in the sense that the GDP is computed by summing up the wages of the employed. So—the large the number of people employed, the greater the GDP. But the downside, which one is no likely to see in a Steven Levy delusion is that there are societal costs associated with each of these {unauthorized immigrants} {portion deleted}. Each child in the school system costs the State about $11,000. A family of {unauthorized immigrants} {portion deleted} is not likely to generate anything close to the cost of the education of these children. And then there are all of the social network costs. Add to that, the billions of dollars that leave the local economies where these people live and work—via Remissions to their families in their home countries. Remissions to Mexico have been so large in the past, that this revenue stream has been perhaps the second largest component to the Mexican economy—second only behind its oil revenues. Not at all clear how any of these dollars are doing any good to US communities where the dollars are generated?

{portion deleted}


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Joe -

Education and employment opportunities are already available to non-citizens in California through various visas. They pay taxes, their children go to schools, they are not required to "integrate", they send money back to their home country, and social security is pro-rated on the time paid into it. And their visas can be revoked for conviction of a crime. So the current visa program already addresses all the issues that you mention.

My understanding is that Mr. Levy is proposing new visas, such that those who are already here would be subject to the same conditions. It is not unreasonable that new visas could also address the same problems.

> A family of illegals is not likely to generate anything close to the cost of the education of these children.

And that is exactly what Mr. Levy is talking about. Give them opportunities, and they could.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Amongst the most affected U.S. citizens by {unauthorized immigrants} are Black citizens. Their wages, especially on the lower end, are driven down by the illegal invasion over our borders. Steve Levy refuses to deal with the reality on ground. He can try to change the language, instead of arguing the issues, but he cannot change reality.

We should be living in a relatively high wage society, especially on the lower end. Until the border is secured, we shall not have that.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Robert, a resident of another community,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

@Steve

>And that is exactly what Mr. Levy is talking about. Give them opportunities, and they could.

Sorry, but that sounds way to proactive, and doesn't allow enough judgement, which is what Joe (who I'm sure takes personal credit for his family coming here legally) would like to offer. {portion deleted}


 +  Like this comment
Posted by What Joe Said, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 10:04 pm

deleted


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

The reality is that there are 2.5 million unauthorized immigrants living in California.

This blog is about whether it is better for the economy for them to learn and earn outside the law or better to allow them the legal right to study and work. I argue that it is better to do the latter.

They are less likely to be exploited. Many will improve their skills, wages and the taxes they pay.

A society where you legislate against reality (as in Prohibition) does not work out well.

There is a large national debate about immigration reform and this blog is oriented to one piece of that debate--trying to separate citizenship and voting from the ability to contribute more to their families and the economy.

There are legitimate economic concerns (although I think not based on facts) and I have left them in--about the impact of low wage immigration on African Americans and about the fiscal impacts of unauthorized immigration.

But even these concerns are mostly irrelevant to deciding how to handle the fate of people who are hear already.

I do understand about incentive effects (more will come) and will respond to those as I can.

I am trying this weekend to have a vacation in LA with my family here.

I tried to adjust the language to leave in some of each post will simply delete from now on if posters do not find ways to respond without put downs or politics.

As a start understand that there are fewer unauthorized immigrants in CA and the nation then there were before the recession and that growing unauthorized immigration cannot, therefore, be the cause of recent wages and poverty.


As with traffic and housing prices, the economy is the prime determinant of immigration flows. And as with traffic and housing prices, a terrible recession is a heavy price to pay for a slight reduction in immigration.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Our grandparents and great-grandparents didn't have to deal with the labor arbitrage concomitant to a massive influx of {unauthorized} {portion deleted} immigrants during the last Depression. Why should we deal with it now? {portion deleted}

Apparently their "rights" override the rights of native-born citizens. Why not argue for full pardons and amnesty for nonviolent drug offenders {Portion deleted} And will somebody please remind me why my 87 year-old Danish mother-in-law gets groped by a stranger to fly on an airplane, while we allow anybody that can get across our Southern border in with a free pass? I can't wrap my head around the concept of a siege state with open borders. It's historically unique.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat--there were six or seven duplicate posts to the one above


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joe Hill, a resident of North Whisman,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

repeat


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Amelia, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 13, 2014 at 7:56 am

I do not understand why someone who enters and stays illegally in this country should be helped. I do think that minors who were brought here without a choice and are now adults should have the right to become a citizen.

The US is nation building on other continents. Perhaps if we put our focus towadrs helping Mexico become a better place to live, we would not see the mad rush to get over the border here.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Fair question Amelia.

I am down visiting my mom and will answer your question when I get a chance.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on Apr 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I don't see anything wrong with this idea, if they are working hard and paying their own way. Work hard and get rewarded.

Gee I grew up with idea, middle class blue collar or mid level jobs, save money, buy a home and retire.

The American Dream, anybody can do it I was told.

Sigh.

If they want to get down and dirty to achieve this goal. More power to them.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

"The reality is that there are 2.5 million unauthorized immigrants living in California.

This blog is about whether it is better for the economy for them to learn and earn outside the law or better to allow them the legal right to study and work. I argue that it is better to do the latter."

If the question is simply - is it better to collect taxes from residents or not? There is no discussion.

But the question is "What are the effects of granting residency to existing unauthorized immigrants"? The first effect is an influx of new unauthorized immigrants - hoping for the next amnesty. The cycle could be repeated until the saturation level was reached - an amnesty would not result in any unauthorized immigrants accepting residency, nor in new unauthorized immigrants.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Adviceo, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Apr 14, 2014 at 6:21 am

My complaint is: One house, 5 families living there, 12 cars parked wherever space allows. This makes the neighborhood look shabby. Who wants to live next door???


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 14, 2014 at 4:44 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Amelia,

Here are some reasons why I think it is a good idea to help unauthorized immigrants, some of whom are children, have the legal right to learn and earn.

They are here and it is better for them and for us if they participate in the economy at their highest level and get paid accordingly. On balance it is bad for most people if they are subject to exploitation, help the economy less than they could and pay less taxes than they can.

We help people convicted of serious crimes learn skills so that they can return, after serving their prison time, to productive lives. It i shard work and we are not very successful but it is an agreed upon public policy to try and help them.

If we choose to help bank robbers and almost all prisoners except murderers, why not help unauthorized immigrants. It helps no one much to have people lead less productive lives than they can. And the costs of allowing unauthorized immigrants to learn and earn are small, if anything.

And yes it is a good idea to see the Mexican economy prosper as it is beginning to do. The combination of Mexican economic improvement and lower birth rates has already reduced the level of unauthorized immigration to zero or negative although part of the reduction is the result of the recession and increased border security.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Steve from Shoreline West

I think the U.A. should have immigration reforms that allow low skilled workers to come here legally based on labor force needs--the same for high skilled workers.

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation and California has declined in recent years and will be influenced as I wrote above by lower birth rates and economic progress in Mexico, and by border security measures.

I would control the immigration of workers legally than allow policies to continue that provide incentives for companies and immigrants to continue a low-wage, tax avoidance, living in the shadows with potential exploitation system we have now.

And, yes, I am advocating a major extension of the Dream Act to all immigrants and with no time limitations.

For the most part these immigrants fill legitimate workforce needs and I prefer an above board, highest productivity, earning and tax paying approach to exploitation and tax avoidance.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by carl, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 14, 2014 at 7:56 pm

legal immigration is welcome.
Illegal immigration is a crime.
What part of this do people not understand?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:11 am

Steve -

"I would control the immigration of workers legally than allow policies to continue that provide incentives for companies and immigrants to continue a low-wage, tax avoidance, living in the shadows with potential exploitation system we have now."

As I said, there\'s no discussion here. The only question is how to bring the unauthorized residents to being authorized. The problem with an amnesty and automatic authorization is that it will create another wave of unauthorized immigrants lining up for the next amnesty.

"The number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation and California has declined in recent years and will be influenced as I wrote above by lower birth rates and economic progress in Mexico, and by border security measures."

If these trends/measures are sufficient to stem unauthorized immigration, then why not just things run their course? The US-born children of unauthorized immigrants will be full-fledged US citizens. Why perpetuate the cycle of amnesty and unauthorized immigration? The very thing you seek to eliminate?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by jack, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Well, Steve, this is slightly off topic but related.

Why don\'t we allow anyone who wants to immigrate to the US the right to legally do so? Why do we have laws limiting the number of people who can legally come in?

These people will all help our economy, and provide a diversity of perspectives on everything from curing cancer and improving our political and judicial systems, to how to better cut grass.

And since there is no good reason for having these laws, why not ignore them of just formalize the process for violating them? This is where there is a kind of connection to what you propose. Just do the right thing and forget about the existing laws; just change the law to officially allow those smart enough to have broken it.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Fireman, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Apr 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

No Amnesty for Any Illegal Alien/Criminals period. They broke the law to get here and continue to break the law to stay here. They are sucking the resources of this state dry, and their disregard for the rule of law is disgusting.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Fireman, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Apr 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

"Unauthorized immigrant" means Illegal Alien/Illegal Immigrant. Same as saying undocumented. Why are you trying to take away the criminal culpability of these law breakers. Why should they be rewarded. No one who is here illegally should be offered anything other than a bus ride home. Is this the message we want to send to our kids that enough people break the law then you can get away with it. NOT> Mountain View is full of Illegal aliens and it is time the for an ICE sweep. The city is nothing short of a sanctuary for Criminals....


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Steve:

you can change "illegal immigrant" to "unauthorized" all you want in these responses (or is it the editors?), but it doesn't change the fact that these people broke the law to get here and continue to do so by staying here. Their presence here has destroyed any hopes of increasing wages at the low end of the wage spectrum as they will work for peanuts (and we all know when you pay peanuts you get monkeys). They've destroyed the building trades as a profession by depressing wages to the point that citizens don't want to work in those jobs. No, it's not the other way around.

The solution to the problem is to close the borders and eject the law breakers. With a decreased supply of cheap labor wages will rise at the lower end of the economy. Yes, we'll all pay more for our groceries and construction. So what? CITIZENS will be employed a realistic wages.

For the record I have no issue with LEGAL immigrants. Most legal immigrants I know hate illegals for the law breakers and "line jumpers" they are.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Apr 16, 2014 at 10:06 am

@Stephen - I also think we should deal with reality. If there are truly 300,000 illegal immigrant children, assuming they are all in school at 2011 levels of spending, we are spending $2.7 billion dollars or so a year to educate these children K-12. Yet when they are able to "pay back" society by going to college, getting a good job, paying taxes and contribute to the economy, we tell them no.

It seems to be simply common sense and good economic policy to allow people to legally pay taxes and pay their college tuition.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 16, 2014 at 11:53 am

@palo alto resident

"Yet when they are able to "pay back" society by going to college, getting a good job, paying taxes and contribute to the economy"

Your concerns have been addressed in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA").

The current problem is how to accommodate the existing unauthorized immigrants that do not fall under DACA without giving the appearance of an open invitation to future unauthorized immigrants through the possibility future amnesties.

Steve/Shoreline West


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ the posters that remind readers that unauthorized immigrant are breaking the law

For me that is not a reason the shoot ourselves in the foot so to speak. I do understand that they are breaking the law just as I hope readers understand that there are two parties at play here and the employers are also breaking the law.

This occurs because the immigration laws do not have labor force need based quotas that are sufficient for either high skilled or low wage workers.

Let's change the law so that work based immigration is legal and planned for.

A legal system for low wage immigrants plus positive trends in the Mexican economy and birth rates will diminish, probably extinguish, any possible surge in unauthorized immigration. Why come here with no legal protection to live in fear for low wages when there could be a legal pathway that eliminates the law breaking, exploitation and fear.

We are entering a period when we will see massive retirements and immigrants will be a large part of filling these jobs and maintaining a good balance of workers to retirees and children.

I prefer meeting this challenge legally by allowing people now here to learn and earn without fear of arrest or deportation and changing the law, combined with border and employer enforcement to gradually eliminate the problems caused by the current system.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 16, 2014 at 5:22 pm

@stephen levy

"A legal system for low wage immigrants plus positive trends in the Mexican economy and birth rates will diminish, probably extinguish, any possible surge in unauthorized immigration."

Unauthorized immigration will continue as it has in the past - when there was already a legal system for low wage immigrants (H-2A visa). It\'s true that other factors such as border control, the economy and more visas could decrease unauthorized immigration - but those would work independently from an amnesty.

And special treatment for those who are already here without authorization will only attract more. When the first step of the "legal pathway" is unauthorized immigration, it is guaranteed to continue (there is never just one amnesty).

The labor shortage argument is weak - any shortage of labor can be filled with legal immigrants.

So what\'s left - 2.5 million people that had the opportunity to seek legal immigration, but chose instead to take the unauthorized route. They came here knowing what their situation would be, and that\'s what they have. They are generally not high-income earners, so the state is not losing a huge amount of tax. Their children attend school whether they are authorized or not - granting authorization doesn\'t make the cost of their education disappear. An unauthorized immigrant\'s life is more difficult than a resident\'s and they have less opportunities to contribute to the economy and society. Why would you seek a policy that encourages and rewards unauthorized immigration? Amnesty is a short-sighted solution to a long-term problem.

Why not just let things run their course? Let the people that came here unauthorized remain here unauthorized - they have what they expected. They are protected by law enforcement exactly the same as legal residents are. They can pay taxes if they wish by obtaining a tax-payer id from the IRS (the IRS wants money, they don\'t care where it comes from). Their children have better opportunities through DACA.

In the future, we should not wait until we have 2.5 million people outside the system before we decide there is something wrong with the system.

btw - immigration/visas is under federal jurisdiction, so there\'s nothing that California can do about it.

Steve / Shoreline West




 +  Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 17, 2014 at 11:04 am

I agree with Steve but am unwilling to take the time to explain because when you disagree with this blogger he deletes posts.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by No_thanks, a resident of another community,
on Apr 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm

What makes you think that the businesses that employ these immigrants will want to pay the wages and taxes? Why do you think so many are here in the first place and where do you think they work? I can tell you that if you are a construction worker wanting to work for Pulte, and the likes of them, they do not like to hire American workers because they do not want to pay living wages and health care costs. It's a huge mistake thinking that the workers who are here from south of border are here to pick lettuce and wash dishes because there are not enough Americans to do the jobs. The truth is that several industries that formerly employed Americans are hiring illegal workers so they can make larger profits. This is not a sustainable economy. The unemployed Americans take welfare and the politicians tax the rest of us who are still working. It's not going to work for long. I for one, a tax payer, have an exit strategy for leaving this country if these issues are not addressed.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by No_thanks, a resident of another community,
on Apr 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I also wanted to add that socialism works in other countries because they protect the jobs of their citizens.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@CPA

Thanks for the comment.

I understand you are upset by some of my editing. But if you read the posts on this blog, there are plenty of folks who disagree.

I did delete one comment and edit some others for use of offensive language--the one deleted was in reference to political parties. But if you read the posts above you will see some pretty strong disagreement.

I would be interested in hearing your reasons for support or disagreement as long as they are respectful, which is my call.

I disagree with Steve is a good way to start posting a disagreement.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 17, 2014 at 6:22 pm

"For me that is not a reason the shoot ourselves in the foot so to speak. I do understand that they are breaking the law just as I hope readers understand that there are two parties at play here"

Steve Levy, using your own principles, do you support the cowboy rancher in Nevada? He broke the law, but he says the Feds also broke the law by attempting to enforce the law, which was against his view of the Constitution.

In the end, if we are allowed to pick and choose which laws we want to follow, it could lead to civil discontent if not civil war. We are not all that far away from states rights and nullification or Ukraine...

You are treading on thin ice, Mr. Levy.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:39 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Kevin,

I am not in favor of breaking the law.

I favor two remedies here.

One is to make it easier for low skilled immigrants to come legally based on the need for low skilled workers--not unlimited as most legal immigration paths are not unlimited.

Two, I favor changing the status of resident unauthorized immigrants so they can learn and earn and pay taxes legally.

We change laws to reflect changing values or in realization that something is not working.

We revoked Prohibition. We have changed laws regarding gay marriage, a women's right to choose, laws regarding treatment of African Americans and are in the midst of changing laws regarding marijuana.

Far from treading on thin ice, I am in the mainstream of American practicality, generosity and tolerance as well as promoting policies that will strengthen freedom and improve the economy.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@no_thanks

I disagree with your assessment of the labor market for low skilled workers and this is within my main area of professional expertise.

but even if you were correct, my proposal is a solution.

Give these workers the protection of the law regarding the right to work and exploitation diminishes.

@ Steve

Your fear that endless immigration is coming is not fact based. Unauthorized immigration to CA is down, Mexican unauthorized immigration is down across the nation and the improvement in economies south of the border plus lower birth rates are helping reduce the flows.

Our policy for many years now has been not to deport non-criminal immigrants and to strengthen employer enforcement.

The policies I propose will move us to a more productive and less fearful society with little risk.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm

"I am not in favor of breaking the law."

Of course you are! Crossing the border illegally is unlawful, and you defend it. Who are you kidding? That you may oppose border enforcement is no different than that cowboy in Nevada. You want what you want. No more.

Illegal invasion for low wage work serves several purposes, but one of the main ones is to keep wages low, at the lower end. It is a sick lie that Americans will not take low end jobs, if the wages are high enough. Suppression of low end wages will prove that point.

You say you want more low skilled labor to get here, and we had that in the past (Bracero Program, later called the National Program). Do you support the Bracero Program, Steve? Do you continue to support a low wage society, at any level? Imagine if you were forced to pay your maid/housecleaner/gardener $30/hour (or more), because you could no longer get such help from the backs of the oppressed, especially from Mexico and Central America?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:35 am

@stephen levy

"Your fear that endless immigration is coming is not fact based. Unauthorized immigration to CA is down, Mexican unauthorized immigration is down across the nation and the improvement in economies south of the border plus lower birth rates are helping reduce the flows."

Actually it is based on fact - (you've cherry-picked the state of CA, which is irrelevant because immigration laws are federal). I can only find two years (2008 and 2009) where the number of unauthorized immigrants has not increased.

Web Link


Steve / Shoreline West


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:58 am

@stephen levy

With the current situation for unauthorized immigrants with the penalty of prison (maximum six months for a first time offender), 2.5 million people have found it worthwhile to take the risk to live in California as undocumented immigrants. Since the government is not actively seeking to deporting these people, this number is the natural equilibrium based on risk (deportation and/or prison) versus benefit (economic opportunity).

Suppose the risk of deportation and/or prison was removed. What would that number become? Mr. Levy says it would decrease. Supposing it did defy gravity, and dropped by 50% to 1.25 million. The 2.5M unauthorized immigrants would now be authorized, momentarily resulting in an unauthorized population of zero, followed by an influx of 1.25M new unauthorized immigrants to fill the hole they left behind (I'll refer to this as back-fill and the 50% as the back-fill rate). And now instead of having 2.5M unskilled, uneducated people, we would now have 3.75M unskilled, uneducated people. Again, seeing that 1.25M unauthorized immigrants is unbearable, another amnesty would follow, giving us now 3.75M now-authorized immigrants, followed by a influx of 50% of the previous number (0.5 x 1.25M = 0.625M), for a total of 4.375M unskilled, uneducated immigrants. Eventually the total number will approach 5M - which is twice what we started with. Now Mr. Levy could argue that the 50% back-fill rate is unfounded, and would actually be much lower. Perhaps. Someone else could argue it would be higher. Regardless - provided it was not negative (i.e. immigrants are discouraged by less risk (?)), it would still result in attracting unauthorized immigrants.

Steve / Shoreline West


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:05 am

@stephen levy

"Mexican unauthorized immigration is down across the nation"

The number of unauthorized immigrants has tripled from 1990. Indeed, they are not coming as fast now, but they are still coming. If the goal of your policy is to reduce the number of unauthorized immigrants, then it should refer to the number of unauthorized immigrants (instead of the rate of unauthorized immigration).

From 1990 to 2012, the number of illegal immigrants in the US has risen from 3.5M to 11.7M (300%).

Web Link



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