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Does Immigration Cost Jobs?

September 22, 2011

Tonight in Orlando another Republican debate will be held among the candidates vying for the nomination. Immigration has come up as a topic in the past few debates since Governor Rick Perry entered the race. As a governor of a border state, immigration plays a key role in the states’ politics, and Governor Perry’s record demonstrates a moderate stance on the issue. In the September 13th Tampa debate, the Christian Science Monitor noted, “Defending his decision, Perry said the law sends ‘a message to young people that, regardless of what the sound of their last name is, that we believe in you. We are going to allow you to be a contributing members of the state of Texas and not be a drain on the system.'”

According to a UPI review, the number one question submitted for tonight’s debate in Orlando has to do with illegal immigration. Immigration is a hot topic because of the belief that an increase in immigration of documented and undocumented workers costs American jobs. Is this true? Does Immigration Cost Jobs?

According to a article from last year, the answer is No:

But most economists and other experts say there’s little to support the claim. Study after study has shown that immigrants grow the economy, expanding demand for goods and services that the foreign-born workers and their families consume, and thereby creating jobs. There is even broad agreement among economists that while immigrants may push down wages for some, the overall effect is to increase average wages for American-born workers.

. . .

The truth is that immigrants [whether legal or illegal] don’t “take American jobs,” according to most economists and others who have studied the issue.

Immigrant workers “create almost as many” jobs as they occupy, “and maybe more,” said Madeleine Sumption, policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, which is funded by a range of foundations, corporations and international organizations. “They often create the jobs they work in.” In addition, “they buy things, and they make the economy bigger,” she told us.

. . .

David Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote in an article for Commentary magazine in December:

Griswold: The addition of low-skilled immigrants expands the size of the overall economy, creating higher-wage openings for managers, craftsmen, accountants, and the like. The net result is a greater financial reward and relatively more opportunities for those Americans who finish high school.


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