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.

 

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