NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Examines Impact of Legalization of Illegal Immigrants

August 29, 2001

A new study from UCLA relates a broad legalization of undocumented immigrants and a new visa program for low-end workers to a reduction in the number of new arrivals and a rise in their wages.

The study's author, Raul Hinojosa, makes these points:

  • Past experience has shown that when undocumented workers were legalized, their wages rose by about 15 percent.
  • If steps were taken for a new wave of legalizations -- such as happened in the previous amnesty in 1986 -- wages would again rise by about 15 percent, which would reduce the number of workers hired by about one-quarter.
  • In fact, in the three years after the amnesty of 1986, the number of illegal immigrants detected by the Immigration and Naturalization Service plummeted -- and only started ticking up again in the 1990s, after the legalization process ended.
  • Legalized immigrant workers significantly increase their investment in themselves -- be it from learning English, or other training which boosts productivity.

Source: Eduardo Porter, "Broad Legalization Would Cut Immigration," Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2001; based on Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, "Comprehensive Migration Policy Reform in North America: The Key to Sustainable and Equitable Economic Integration," North American Integration and Development Center, UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, August 29, 2001.


Browse more articles on Government Issues