Monday, August 17, 2009

CATO Institute Finds $180 Billion Benefit to Legalizing Illegal Immigrants

The Washington Independent:
A new study from the libertarian CATO Institute concludes that legalizing the more than eight million undocumented workers in the United States would have significant economic benefits for the country, while simply enhancing border enforcement and applying restrictive immigration laws would actually hurt the U.S. economically.

The new report, written by Professor Peter B. Dixon and Research Fellow Maureen T. Rimmer at the Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University in Australia, relies on an economic model used by the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, as well as International Trade Commission.

Weighing public spending and revenues, U.S. employment rates in various occupations, and price levels for imports and exports, among other things, the authors conclude that “increased enforcement and reduced low-skilled immigration have a significant negative impact on the income of U.S. households.” The minimal savings in public spending on immigrants now “would be more than offset by losses in economic output and job opportunities for more skilled American workers.” A policy that reduces low-skilled immigration to about a third less than projected levels, then, over ten years, “would reduce U.S. household welfare by about 0.5 percent, or $80 billion.”

In contrast, “legalization of low-skilled immigrant workers would yield significant income gains for American workers and households,” the study found. Legalization would eliminate the costs of smuggling illegal immigrants, would allow immigrants to be more productive and openly participate in the economy, and it would “create more openings for Americans in higher skilled occupations.”

The overall positive impact for U.S. households of legalizing these workers over ten years would be “1.27 percent of GDP or $180 billion.”

The findings are consistent with previous studies that show economic benefits from the legalization of illegal workers.


Why is "amnesty" such a bad word among the Republican base again? I'm sure it's got nothing to do with racism, Holy Hyrax.

(Hat tip: Patrick Appel, filling in for Andrew Sullivan.)

Previously: On Immigration: Why I Favor Amnesty.

17 comments:

Geonite said...

I'm not a Republican but I have some issues with amnesty. I'm not saying we should force them out but they should be made to pay a price for breaking the law. Once you start giving amnesty for one crime how do you justify not giving amnesty for another?

apikores said...

"Once you start giving amnesty for one crime how do you justify not giving amnesty for another?"

Simple. You justify it by saying that not all crimes are the same.

I hate "slippery slope" arguments. Granting amnesty to desperate people who are just trying to make enough money to eat is not going to make us start pardoning murderers. (And gay marriage won't lead to beastiality, and paying doctors' consultation fees won't lead to forced euthanasia.)

Random said...

"Why is "amnesty" such a bad word among the Republican base again?"

Because they don't believe that people who break the law should be preferred over people who obey it (legal immigrants from countries as poor as Mexico can wait months or even years before their papers are approved, if they ever are). Why is this so difficult to understand? It's not racism, it's just that by and large people in Canada have it well enough they don't feel it's worth risking their lives to try crossing the border illegally.

Yes, there is an economic argument in favour of an amnesty, and it's not a trivial. But there's one heck of a moral hazard argument there too, either the US is a country of laws or it isn't.

One final thought - you're keen enough to throw an accusation of racism at the critics of amnesty, but are you prepared to swear, hand on heart, hope to die, that none of the supporters of amnesty are motivated by the fact that ethnic minorities tend to vote heavily Democratic? And how is this any better than the darker motives you're imputed to the opponents?

Geonite said...

apikores,

Don't be ridiculous. There are a lot of crimes in between murder and illegal entry to a country.

Crimes should not go unpunished. It IS a very slippery slope.

apikores said...

"It IS a very slippery slope"

Back that up. What crimes are we gonna let slide once we start having amnesty for illegal immigrants?

What is to stop us from saying that we'll allow amnesty for illegal immigrants, but not for any other crimes.

"Slippery slope" is such a crock. We are not so stupid that we can't distinguish between different things.

Jewish Atheist said...

Random:

I don't think that the moral hazard argument or Republicans' sense of injustice on behalf of legal immigrants justifies the *passion* behind the anti-illegal immigration movement. I'm not saying there aren't legitimate arguments against amnesty, but let's not be naive here.

are you prepared to swear, hand on heart, hope to die, that none of the supporters of amnesty are motivated by the fact that ethnic minorities tend to vote heavily Democratic?

I don't know, it's possible. So what?

And how is this any better than the darker motives you're imputed to the opponents?

How is it better to support immigration because immigrants vote Democratic than to oppose it because you don't like Hispanics? I don't know, it seems kind of obvious to me.

Jewish Atheist said...

Also, there's a simple test we can make to see if people are genuine motivated by the moral hazard argument, etc. -- What's their stance on legal immigration? I'd bet dollars to donuts there's quite a strong overlap between passionate anti-amnesty folks and anti-legal-immigration folks.

Geonite said...

apikores,

Let's start with parking violations. I'm not really hurting anyone by parking in a handicapped space am I? Then we can move on to traffic violations where no one got hurt. HEY!!! so what if I ran that red light- nothing happened. Next let's get rid of trespassing laws. How does it hurt you to have vagrants sitting on your front lawn or sleeping in your garage?

Should I go on?

apikores said...

facepalm.

Random said...

"I don't think that the moral hazard argument or Republicans' sense of injustice on behalf of legal immigrants justifies the *passion* behind the anti-illegal immigration movement."

Then I would suggest you know very few Republicans, and are not listening to those few (such as the commenters on this blog) that you do know. The overwhelming impression I get from reading conservative and Republican blogs is that most of the anger and passion about this issue has got nothing to do with race and everything to do with the fact that millions of people are flouting the law and the government is proposing to do nothing about it except change the law because they're not prepared to enforce it.

This should be obvious - law and order are famously key conservative and Republican values (sometimes to excess), and racism - despite the fantasies of the left - is not (you often criticise the effects of southern culture on the Republicans in this regard, but you really should have a good hard look at which party controls the vast majority of state legislatures down there). When Republicans and conservatives are telling you this is a law and order issue it might be worth listening to them.

"How is it better to support immigration because immigrants vote Democratic than to oppose it because you don't like Hispanics? I don't know, it seems kind of obvious to me."

Because you have yet to produce a shred of evidence that the base as a whole (and nutjobs like Buchanan do not speak for the base) are opposed to it because they don't like hispanics. You're just assuming it is something that's so obvious it doesn't need proving (hence the sarcastic post by Ezzie which, to be fair, you did link to).

"Also, there's a simple test we can make to see if people are genuine motivated by the moral hazard argument, etc. -- What's their stance on legal immigration?"

Well, given that Republicans tried to run Colin Powell (son of a Jamaican legal immigrant) for president in 2000 and did run Arnold Schwarzenegger (legal immigrant from Austria) for governor of California without any significant controversy on the immigrant status of either man, I would suggest you have your answer. For that matter, when the Democrats ran Jennifer Granholm (legal immigrant from Canada) as governor of Minnesota, the campigns against her had very little to do with her being foreign born. It did however lead to the ongoing campaign to amend the constitution to allow naturalised citizens to run for president to be nicknamed the Schwarzenegger-Granholm amendment after the Rep and Dem most likely to benefit from it...

Scott said...

Republicans:

"Can't have amnesty for brown people who travel across imaginary lines in the ground, amnesty is strictly for people who torture brown people."

Slippery slope indeed.

Anonymous said...

Granholm is governor of Michigan, not Minnesota. During her election and reelection campaigns, vi8rtually nothing was said about the fact that she is an immigrant.

Holy Hyrax said...

Duh, Because it IS about racism. Haven't you learned already , that everything is about racism.

oh, and sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and facism.

Comrade Kevin said...

I think it partially has to do with racism, but that's a kind of facile rendering. It mostly has to do with "othering" and looking for a scapegoat when the reality of the situation is much more complex and involved than others would like to think it.

Getting Americans to really think... Ay, that's the rub.

Theresa said...

I'm a Republican and have no problem with amnesty for illegal aliens. Many other Republicans don't either. You can't ignore them for years, quietly approving of them picking your cabbage and then kick them out. Reagan the uber Republican had a huge amnesty program. Have any of the democrats done anything to fix the illegal boarder crossing and the illegal alien problems?

I do think it is important to enforce the boarder for those who are currently coming over illegally. We want legal immigration, not immigration where the first thing they do is break the law, becoming criminals.

The Zombieslayer said...

A few problems - it's not just Republicans who are against illegal immigration.

Why is "amnesty" such a bad word among the Republican base again? I'm sure it's got nothing to do with racism, Holy Hyrax.

This is simply a dumb statement, and I'll explain.

I am against amnesty. And I'm sure I got a hell of a lot more melanin than you do.

Several problems with illegal immigration:
1) America is heading towards overpopulation. America must have been really nice when the Indians had it. You like strip malls and asphalt where there was once open space? Well, I don't. We keep letting the population skyrocket, there won't be much nice open space left.

2) Corporations use illegal immigrants to undercut American workers. The worst cases of it are with family farming. Family farms are good for the environment. They are fully aware that taking care of the land is good for their future grandchildren. Corporate farming rarely has the same mentality. They see it as just numbers. Once they're spoiled the land, they can sell it to developers. Corporate farming loves illegals because they're cheap labor and they don't have to follow American worker safety standards, because it's all under the table.

Now, call me a racist and I'll expose you as someone who has no respect for family farmers, the working class, and the environment.

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