Economics of illegal immigration

No politics, just numbers. From 2021 research. https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/contributions…

Undocumented workers make up 11% of the 1.9M agriculture work force. There are 700,000 working in construction. 500,000 in hospitality. Are there 200,000 Americans willing to pick lettuce for a living? Where are contractors going to find 700,000 more Americans to put up roofs? Pretty obvious that illegal immigration continues in America because the American economy requires it.

To put it another way, the level of legal immigration is too low for the needs of our economy. This creates demand for illegal immigration. And so they come.

One rational strategy for legal immigration is to set limits based on the number required to maintain a workforce that can support the growing proportion of retiring Americans. We don’t do that, and so are fortunate for the contribution of illegal immigrants who help keep our workforce younger than most of our major economic competitors. That is a significant advantage, particularly to consumers as the impact of undocumented workers is to lower food, restaurant, and housing costs.

Americans are taking advantage of illegal immigrants, not the reverse. That is why we still have substantial illegal immigration. Put the people who hire the undocumented in jail, and the “problem” goes away. Pretty quickly too I bet. But so does a big chunk of the economy.

9 Likes

We have, a number of time, discussed the Scandinavian social model which tends to be parallel with the outlook of US “Progressives”. I will not discuss it as that would wax political and frankly, there is little new which the conversation would elicit which hasn’t been chewed to death in the past.

There is, however, another social model of a wealthy country which could be considered. Like our country, it has internal warts which impact the freedom of some of its population (in their case, notably women as an example, in ours, notably race related as an example).

In order to be a Saudi Arabian citizen, you have to be descended from one of the local tribes. You get free education, free medical care, (not sure, but if the same as Oman) free housing and a promise of a "worthy (don’t get hands dirty) job paying a six-figure (USD equivalent) salary.

The indigenous population is too small to fill the rest of the required jobs (ranging from garbage collectors to taxi drivers) and they hire immigrants through job contracting companies. Currently many of these come from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. there is no path to citizenship, they are not paid a pension upon retirement and so on. They live in the country on a work visa and their health care and so on (if any) are the responsibility of their employment contractors. They live in contractor provided dormitories.

I believe Singapore uses a parallel structure when allowing Indonesians into thee country to find work.

SO, the alternative to our cynical use of illegal immigrants is to make immigration legal, but prevent citizenship. I am not advocating the system, but just indicating that there are other models which are successfully being used to handle a requirement of migrants without opening a free door to citizenship.

Jeff

8 Likes

And once legalized, all should be taught - in their native language - the benefits of demanding and or joining a union, replete with simple bullet point instructions and even a sponsor to help show how to do it.

That one will be real popular with the investor class, for starters - though thus far I don’t see much cheer when some unions are being started.

set limits based on the number required to maintain a workforce that can support the growing proportion of retiring Americans. We don’t do that

We could do it if the choice was to do so. We choose to NOT do so.

Set up systems based on desired outcome(s). Do we want the workers to be able to become US citizens–or not?

If NOT eligible to become citizens (this is an already-existing category in the US, i.e. migrant crop pickers), then have contracts with foreign workers to work in the US (at stated jobs for specific time periods (say five years?) for a specific amount of money and benefits–and then re-evaluate future needs every 3-4 yrs to look at requirements for the next five-year period.

1 Like

We had the system optimized.

That is why it is the way it is.

During supply side econ people in business chose not to pay taxes. Labor was needed. That system was optimized.

Optimized is a really crappy word for it because over all the US had very slow real GDP growth rates for 40 years. It sucked in reality. Most Americans got poorer.

Now the economic reality is demand side econ with counter cyclical tendencies. Meaning we want faster real GDP growth. This means not paying people illegally. It means raising rates of pay. It means economies of scale. Increased tax revenues, more people working, fatter corporate profits, lower input costs, all in relative terms and more. It means growing a massively wealthy American Middle Class.

What it means is throwing out the old bigotries among Americans. It means getting wealthy for a lot of people.

If we need labor we need to legalize what it is doing here. We need the labor.

2 Likes

SO, the alternative to our cynical use of illegal immigrants is to make immigration legal, but prevent citizenship.

A couple of factoids. We already have a significant guest worker program, approaching 700,000 annually, compared to about 1.2M given permanent residence each year. As an aside, our guest worker program contributes significantly to the illegal immigration problem due to folks overstaying their visas.

Even with this influx of legal immigration "The **dependency ratio—the number of people of working age, compared with the number of young and elderly**—will rise sharply, mainly because of growth in the elderly population. There were 59 children and elderly people per 100 adults of working age in 2005. That will rise to **72 dependents per 100 adults of working age in 2050**." https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2008/02/11/us-populatio…

For a comparison we can look at Japan, a country where age demographics have contributed substantially to a decade of stagnant economic growth, which currently has a dependency ratio of 69.

So that gives an idea of the magnitude of the demographic problem facing us. Given that, I don’t see how expanding guest workers and reducing legal immigration helps. Seems to me it makes everything worse. You will still have increasing numbers of foreign-born workers but being temporary, these will be less inclined to integrate into American society. And how is having a more rapidly aging voting population that is becoming increasingly less representative of the overall population a good thing for democracy?

This resistance to increasing immigration numbers makes little sense to me. Particularly since there are a lot of signs of growing decadence among multigenerational Americans. These include a decline in self-discipline as seen by rising rates of obesity and drug abuse and a decline in accountability as demonstrated by unsubstantiated excuses(e.g., scapegoating and conspiracy theories) to explain away personal failures. Objectively speaking, it looks like America could use an injection of new blood to avoid decline.

On a more anecdotal note, I recently had kids in a diverse public high school. The top performers in the math and science teams were heavily overweighted with the children of new immigrants. We need a lot more of this new blood

5 Likes

Almost no one will go to jail. Pass the law and people will mostly stop, and those who know they have a right to ignore laws will provide a few examples and yes, that would be that.

And then, unless we are content to watch economy collapse, we would actually have to create a real immigration policy other than what we have now. What we have now is JC’s can do almost whatever they want, workers’ salaries always have bottom of the barrel competition for jobs, and USAians are in constant delusional turmoil.

This has made me angry since I was 14 and understood the racket (living in California helped).

david fb

2 Likes

fb,

I also have said that for years. But now I have changed my mind.

We need the labor. We need to also tax the labor. We need to pay properly for the labor.

Just enforcing business owners pay the taxes or go to prison wont help the poor business owner who really does need the labor.

The sick part in all of this currently is trying to make all Latinos a joke for the beginning of November. A total disregard for human beings.

We need the labor. We need to also tax the labor. We need to pay properly for the labor.

+++++++++++++

Require a National ID card and make that a requirement to document prior to any job payout. Violations are pursed instead of just saying it is not a problem, like the border crisis has currently been described.

YR

1 Like

YR,

I agree on those policies. Unfortunately the current song and dance aimed at disgracing the immigrant groups and Latinos in general is a hell of a line of shyny.

Unfortunately the current song and dance aimed at disgracing the immigrant groups and Latinos in general is a hell of a line of shyny.

+++++++++++++++

Your anger is misdirected. The current immigration events are used to spread the problem with enough cities, that the administration cannot ignore this any further. This is caused by the current Immigration Czar and the administrative polices to do nothing as there is no problem. You coddle them and their policies with misdirection.

If anyone is disgraced, it is the current administration and their policy of “no problem”. If Latino’s comprise the majority of the current process, then it is what it is. They are part of the current flood and no racism is involved.

166,000+ per month of flooded immigrants is an unheard of number. No problem indeed.

Again, just fulfilling a self fulfilling prophecy. No one really cares much what happens to these folks in their home country, then once they cross the border, it is suddenly all on the USA and their citizens to fix. A no win situation and the USA should just not play along.

YR

2 Likes

MSNBC: “Migrants are actually thanking Gov. Ron Desantis for having brought them to Martha’s Vineyard.”
https://twitter.com/RealMacReport/status/1570877407116263424…

DB2

1 Like

jaak

I believe we agree. I am arguing for establishing enforcement where it will work rather where it serves only to inflame hatreds and passions and paranoias – at the border.

I do not know a single family here in my town in Mexico without close relatives working illegally in the USA. The idea of stopping people with a wall or a desert or a river over so long a border is literally idiotic and insane, unless you see the real motivation, which is a huge coverup of what really happens and who really benefits.

The nephew of my housekeeper comes back from “el norte” every couple of years and then recrosses using his family’s extremely reliable coyote. Last time he kissed his wife and two kids and headed north it was the construction firm that employs him who met him and protected him across the first hundred miles of the border zone and then on to his job in southern Indiana.

We need them. AND, we need a nation of laws and with borders we control. To get that we must turn the financial gains of employers exploiting illegals into severe penatlties. Then the POWERS will become quite interested in robust immigration laws, but not until.

david fb

19 Likes

“Migrants are actually thanking Gov. Ron Desantis for having brought them to “Migrants are actually thanking Gov. Ron Desantis for having brought them to Martha’s Vineyard.”.”

=========================================

Why would they thank Desantis? Makes no sense. They taken off Martha’s Vineyard.

Jaak

Why would they thank Desantis? Makes no sense. They taken off Martha’s Vineyard.

Jaak

Probably very tongue in cheek on their part if at all. But in some worlds a talking head says whatever and there is a true believer born. As they say there is a sucker born every day in America.

David. I have been preaching this for years to deaf ears. How hard is it to understand that efficient and effective immigration policy can be achieved quickly at lower cost by prosecuting a few thousand employers vs. chasing down and expelling(temporarily) millions of illegally immigrating people?

And yes we NEED to allow more legal immigrants to alleviate this record low unemployment rate and rip roaring economic demand!

My old redneck factory brethren would rather knash teeth and use ineffective punitive measures because it satisfies their lust for vengeance rather than an intelligent political policy.
NCTim

P.S. Once we begin to prosecute a few employers the need to prosecute a few thousand would QUICKLY dry up as they would self reform! That would open the door to honest immigration policy discussion.

3 Likes

P.S. Once we begin to prosecute a few employers the need to prosecute a few thousand would QUICKLY dry up as they would self reform! That would open the door to honest immigration policy discussion.

+++++++++++

The above is fine and dandy but only if YOU HAVE A COGENT AND ENFORCED POLICY OF ENTRY. National ID cards are a must for all benefits, DMV, Jobs, Rentals, etc. and necessary for ALL CITIZENS.

Other wise the border problem does not exist, just listen and believe our leadership!

YR

1 Like

How hard is it to understand that efficient and effective immigration policy can be achieved quickly at lower cost by prosecuting a few thousand employers vs. chasing down and expelling(temporarily) millions of illegally immigrating people?

It’s not hard to understand and lots of people do understand. It is just that keeping the status quo is the most expedient way of providing the workers America needs without having to navigate the political mine field of immigration. Even the loudest advocates of securing the border only propose symbolic measures like building a wall. No one is suggesting raiding places like Google and MIT for the 700,000 each year who overstay their work and student visas. Neither party is pushing a national ID and redirecting ICE to go after the employers. If we did there would be a talent drain out of the country of enormous proportions and a substantial rise in food, housing, hotel, and restaurant costs.

The easiest way to balance the nation’s demonstrated need for lots of foreign-born workers and the visceral desire to keep out “other” people is to yell and point fingers but not actually do anything significant.

Interestingly there are a number of developed countries with declining work forces who are moving to liberalize their immigration laws. Not hard to project a future business that on a large-scale moves people who want to immigrate to countries looking for immigrants. I think such an organized effort will be needed as climate-driven migration accelerates, so it may as well be driven by the free market and regulated by governments.

2 Likes

nocollarTim

Yes! Gosh it feels good to not be completelty all by myself on this matter. Most of the discussions are hear and read about this are a poisonous mix of intentional racist demagoguery and fantasist arguments more divorced from reality than angels dancing on the head of a pin being of principle importance in religion. Nonsense.

Even this quite intelligent board, but also almost all the chattering classes (pols, newsies, cabbies…) and therefore the “people” are utterly fixated on the idea that enforcement must happen at the border. Now, if we are talking about armies, then you need to stop them at the border (or better still before the border) but poor people seeking work are close to INFINITELY more flexible and creative and fast to shift tactics (I have a friend here in Mexico who is a retired professional “coyote” and the tales he tells!) than are police or armies or f$&%ing walls (BÏG Duh!). The current crowds at the border are mostly an entirely different bunch, mostly genuinely seeking refuge for themselves more than paychecks, but being used and even organized by external political actors with a mad array of agendas.

  1. Enforcement at the border is not only a hopeless delusion mixed with a murderous clown show, but also a deliberate distraction largely brought to you by the exact people who pay and thrive through employing illegal immigrants.

  2. Enforcement at the paydesk is unbeliebably more efficient in comparison (it works as almost all the rest of the world as has long been known and practiced!!!) but unfortunately this also hooks into another crucial shibboleth of duped USAians, namely
    that having powerful reliable ID will open the door to satanic practices, 666 written on your forehead etc…, oh and that it contradicts basic ideas of freedumb.

  3. A national biometrically backed ID (or if you want to be inefficient and baroque let every state do their own…) system could be used for everything from drinking age to driving to fishing to identifying who is legally working and who is not. BUT, oh look!, a side effect of such a system would be ending the ugly insane voter ID controversies…cannot have that as it voter intimidation is a key aspect of our politics now.

I doubt sanity will break through in USA before I am dead. But SHEEEEEEeeeeeessssh!

david fb

5 Likes

How hard is it to understand that efficient and effective immigration policy can be achieved quickly at lower cost by prosecuting a few thousand employers vs. chasing down and expelling(temporarily) millions of illegally immigrating people?

Why “rather than”? Why not both?

Prosecute and expel illegal immigrants.

Prosecute and fine or imprison people who make an effort to make life easy for illegal immigrants. Employers who hire them, judges who help them sneak out the back of the courtroom, state and local government policy-makers who forbid their underlings from cooperating with immigration authorities…