NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Backlog of Immigrant Applications can be Costly

June 2, 2003

As the native-born workforce ages, the U.S. economy must increasingly depend on new arrivals from other countries, say observers. But the backlog of immigrant applications for work permits, resident status and citizenship has been climbing.

  • The backlog has bloomed to more than five million in March -- from a 32-month low of 2.9 million in February 2001.
  • Authorities attribute the approval slowdown to Homeland Security considerations and requirements -- but some economists also detect an economic drag in the process.
  • Immigration accounted for 40 percent of the population's growth during the 1990s, according to the Census Bureau.

Economist and Nobel laureate Gary Becker puts the case for immigrants thus: "You bring people in who have good skills, who want to come to this country, who are hard workers, who have ambitions for their children. Those types of people, with their ambition, creativity, and knowledge help us all."

By paying $1,000 per request, employers who are sponsoring immigrant workers can expedite the approval process to just 15 calendar days. Becker calls that a market-based solution.

Source: Daniel Altman, "Putting a Price on Immigration Backlogs," New York Times, June 1, 2003.


Browse more articles on Government Issues