So “Illegal Immigrants” Are As Bad As “Legal” Immigrants?

Not Exactly True Says New Study!

So I’m watching the GOP debate several weeks ago on MSNBC and while on break they ran an ad that completely blew my mind. It was an anti-immigration ad sponsored by, a group based in California. This wasn’t your typical anti-immigration ad, and what struck me, was the fact that the ad had nothing to do with the problem of “illegals” in California. Instead, the ad’s targeted issue was that of too many legal immigrants being in the state of California. Yeah, can you imagine that? I could understand taking issue with undocumented immigrants, but legal documented immigrants? I don’t know about you, but this sounds a bit crazy; especially when you consider the story of the first settlers on American soil. Check out the ad that has been running in recent weeks:

Now according to these fine Americans via their YouTube channel:

More legal immigrants reside and settle in California permanently than in any other state. The flow of workers has not stopped since the recession hit. The policy is having a particularly insidious effect in states like California, with millions unable to find a job and unemployment rates topping 12 percent. As a result, California has been forced to borrow $40 million a day from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits. At the same time, the Federal government continues to flood California with legal immigrants and temporary workers with no calls for an end to foreign workers in sight.

The TV ad, airing on both broadcast and cable networks, illustrates the lack of attention to legal foreign workers by first presenting the word “illegal”, since illegal immigrants has been the primary media focus. The spokesperson then separates the word “legal” out, saying, “But what about these workers; legal foreign workers?” The commercial ends by combining the letters to form the word “ill” to describe California’s economy and joblessness, partly attributable to legal and illegal immigration.

Now I’ve written about the immigration debate on many occasion. As an immigrant myself, this is indeed something near and dear to my heart. Having said that, it really irritates me when I see this played out in the media. Much of this garbage is in fact rooted in racism, and much of the propaganda is often void of facts. So, me being me, allow me to show you something which kills the noise. It’s something that I’be been saying forever, but yet and still, facts like the following are rarely brought to the table when it comes to any debate on immigration and policy.

According to study conducted by Economist Giovanni Peri, a professor at the University of California-Davis. There has been no negative effect on the wages of native-born Americans given the influx of immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. In fact, according to his study, in a new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, the addition of highly skilled immigrants have positively impacted the wages of native-born Americans, According to his study, there is no correlation between the influx of immigrants, and poverty as is often believed. He concluded that immigration doesn’t increase the poverty rate by depressing the wages of low-income, native-born Americans and can actually decrease poverty when higher-skilled immigrants enter the workforce.

Here’s this from his report:

There is essentially no effect of immigration on native poverty at the national level. At the local level, only considering the most extreme estimates and only in some localities, we find non-trivial effects of immigration on poverty. In general, however, even the local effects of immigration bear very little correlation with the observed changes in poverty rates and they explain a negligible fraction of them.

Here’s a more detailed summary:

WASHINGTON — There is broad consensus among economists that immigration has a small but positive impact on the average income of Americans over the long term. But far less analysis has been done on the impact of immigrants on the labor market in the shorter term, particularly when viewed through the lens of the recession and its lingering labor market effects.

In a new Migration Policy Institute report, The Impact of Immigrants in Recession and Economic Expansion, University of California, Davis economist Giovanni Peri finds that immigration unambiguously improves employment, productivity and income but that it also involves some short-term adjustments (such as worker retraining or adoption of new technology).

The paper was commissioned to inform the work of MPI’s Labor Markets Initiative, which is conducting a comprehensive, policy-focused review of the role of legal and illegal immigration in the labor market.

The report, which examines short- and long-run impacts of immigration on average and over the business cycle of growth and contraction, finds that:

  • Immigrants do not reduce native employment rates over the long run (10 years), while increasing productivity and average income for native-born workers. Immigration to the United States over the 1990-2006 period can be credited with a 2.9 percent increase in real wages for the average U.S. worker.
  • The adjustment process, however, is not immediate. When immigration occurs during a downturn, the economy does not appear to respond as quickly as it would during economic expansions and there is evidence of modest negative impacts on employment and average income in the short run. These impacts dissipate over periods of up to seven years.
  • During periods of economic growth, by contrast, new immigration creates jobs in sufficient numbers to leave native employment unharmed even in the short run. This holds true even for less-educated workers. Immigration during economic expansions has no measurable, short-term negative effect on income per worker.

“Adjustments to employment, productivity and income are more difficult during downturns,” Peri said. “This suggests that the United States would benefit most from an immigration system that better adjusts to economic conditions, allowing legal immigrant inflows to be more responsive to the economic cycle.”

In the report, Peri suggests allowing employers’ demand for work visas to play a stronger role in determining the number of visas issued annually, and that a share of the visas be allocated to less-skilled workers, particularly those who perform primarily manual jobs that native workers increasingly are much less interested in filling.

“This report offers further evidence yet of the need for the immigration system to become significantly more responsive to the U.S. economy’s constantly evolving labor market needs, so that the benefits of immigration can be captured more fully and any negative effects neutralized,’’ said MPI President Demetrios Papademetriou. “Establishing an independent executive-branch agency that would make regular recommendations to the president and Congress for adjusting employment-based immigration levels would inject a greatly needed degree of flexibility into the current rigid immigration system.”

Oh well, I can keep repeating this stuff until the cows come home. The truth is, people still won’t believe it. They would rather take commercials like the one above at face value. In doing so, they’ll never ask who or what is actually behind such a commercial. Sadly, they’ll never see it as racist because with the face of immigrants being “those damn messikan fence jumpers,” they’ll seek solace in criminalizing them rather than seeing the economic value of immigration to this country. Bet hey, don’t tell that to the fine patriots who make up Californians For Population Stabilization.

It’s always convenient to blame the foreigners…