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Illegal Immigration and the Labor Market

Author: Martin, Philip L.
Date Published: 1985

For the past seven years, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has been apprehending an average two illegal aliens or undocumented workers each minute of every day, 365 days a year. Apprehension statistics are inflated because some individuals are caught several times, but there is widespread agreement that three to six million immigrants are living and working illegally in the United States. These immigrant workers should have significant economic impacts: the undocumented workforce is as large as the Pennsylvania workforce and earns at least $25 billion annually. The purpose of this paper is to examine how unskilled and undocumented immigrants affect U.S. labor markets, especially in the Southwest. The main conclusions are that: Undocumented workers displace Americans by changing the nature of recruitment and supervision in immigrant-dominated industries so that English-speaking workers are excluded from consideration for certain jobs.; Businesses that do not hire undocumented workers compete for market share with firms that do, and the expansion of firms dependent on undocumented workers indirectly displaces American workers and depresses wages; The lower wages effectuated by undocumented workers get capitalized into the values of farmland and business assets so that resistance to immigration reforms that will raise wages and reduce the value of such assets increases over time.

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Number of Pages: 15