Research Paper: Illegal Immigration Effect on U.S. Economy &amp Schools

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¶ … Illegal Immigration to U.S. Economy & Education

Costs of Illegal Immigration to Economy and Education

Immigration and particularly illegal or undocumented immigration has been a hot topic in the U.S. For several decades, but particularly since September 11th 2001, when all the gaps and holes in our relatively free and open society where highlighted by our ultimate vulnerability to terrorism. The discussion regarding how so many people could get in to and live in the U.S. For such a long period of time with no one really knowing they were here, came up as a talking point and has led countless people, experts and novices to chime in on their beliefs and feelings about illegal immigration. It was only a short matter of time that the discussion turned to the Mexico border and its multiple vulnerabilities and to some the startling number of people who enter this nation illegitimately from there. The talk then of course turned to what some see as the enormous financial burden these individuals place on society, everything from how many "free" taxpayer supported services they enjoy and how many U.S. jobs they take from legitimate workers both immigrant and otherwise. The current condition of the domestic and international economies has added fuel to the fire, as experts and novices alike question why we as a nation are providing valuable service to illegal's when those resources are severely restricted and in some cases threatened. ("Top 10 pros and cons…" 2009) Lastly, the new Arizona legislation that allows officials to detain based on appearance also sparked the thought by many that there needs to be some real data about the costs of illegal immigration. (Stewart) Having clearly but briefly outlined why this illegitimate institution of illegal immigration, that has existed in the U.S. For centuries and met many common needs of both immigrants and the U.S. this work will go into some detail about what illegal immigration really costs and benefits the U.S. first by underscoring the facts that are known about illegal immigration and second illuminating what is unknown, such as how much illegal immigration really cost the economy and particularly public education.

Costs and Benefits to the Economy

As a logical starting point this work will start with a relatively comprehensive discussion about why illegal immigration has been such a constant and mostly accepted institution in the U.S. For such a long time. It would also be remiss to discuss this topic without including the real logic and benefit behind illegal immigration. The reasons are purely an issue of supply and demand, illegal workers supply services in the U.S. that U.S. workers are not either willing to provide or are to educated to even think of providing. Hansen of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, explains the phenomena in some detail in a policy briefing on the logic of illegal immigration, and more specifically in his chapter on the economics of illegal immigration. The work very clearly outline the details of the situation, where the U.S. has had a massive global improvement in education, far above that seen in history, which has stripped the labor market of unskilled workers and made them relatively scarce, the percentage of people in the U.S. with less than a high school education went from 50% in 1960 to 12% in 2000, an improvement in most sense but an improvement that leaves a gap in the economy. (Hansen 14)

Therefore it is an issue of supply and demand. The U.S. has a high demand for unskilled labor and Mexico in particular has a high supply, not to mention a much lower wage scale and limited economic opportunity for skilled or unskilled workers. In Mexico 74% of the working population holds less than 12 years of education and a worker there with that skill level can earn about $2.30 per hour, where the demand in the U.S. allows that same worker to earn about $8.50 for the same hour of work, adjusting for the variance in cost of living, which is much lower in Mexico. (Hansen 14) That increase as well as the failure of legitimate immigration processes to meet the real needs of these workers through programs that cost little and support temporary or migrant work leaves most of these workers with the logical choice of entering the country illegally, some staying and improving their lot and others returning repeatedly to Mexico as their tenure increases. (Hansen 14-15) Hansen also argues that the legal immigration hat occurs most often among skilled workers, also in high demand in the U.S. usually retains the bulk of legitimate means of entering the country to work either temporarily or permanently. As Hansen puts it

For low-skilled workers in much of the world, U.S. admission policies make illegal immigration the most viable means of entering the country admission criteria that are too arbitrary to serve most prospective migrants who would like to work in the United States in the immediate future. As a consequence, most Mexican immigrants enter the United States illegally. Although many ultimately obtain green cards, they remain unauthorized for a considerable period of time. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that in 2005 80 to 85% of Mexican immigrants who had been in the United States less than ten years were unauthorized. Illegal immigration thus accomplishes what legal immigration does not: It moves large numbers of lowskilled workers from a low-productivity to a high-productivity environment. (Hansen 14)

Hansen is also clear that the relative cost to the U.S. economy is extremely small, the potential real reward for Mexican families is extremely high, as most will gain economically and educationally from entrance in the U.S. (Hansen 14-15)

Now we know to some degree why they are here, we should move on to discuss how they affect the economy. Hansen, like most is stymied by the reality of the inability to track illegal immigration costs, but stresses an overall trend. Low-skilled workers tend to have a higher cost than high skilled workers on the economy as they have larger families and lower wages and therefore are more likely to benefit from social services resources and use other public services and are likely to pay less in taxes as wages are lower. (Hansen 16)

Yet, there is no real way to track these outputs in any significant way, as social services and even public education are barred, in a free society from asking or even knowing if an individual or his or her children or spouse is in the U.S. legally or illegally, and therefore estimates are all we have to go on. Though it is easier to track the economics of the positive impact that illegal immigrants have in the U.S., because financial transparency is relatively good, because the output figure is so discretional both sides of the debate have a right to legitimately claim they are right, with some saying the situation costs of million if not billions and others saying we are gaining more than we are putting out. As a reporter puts it, "quantifiable data is hard to find, and most of the numbers bandied about are based on research by advocacy groups on either side of the debate. That makes it difficult to know both the costs of illegal workers and the benefits of a low-cost, mobile workforce." (Stewart) having said this the prevailing wisdom of the exerts is that unlike many believe the overall economic impact of illegal immigration, spread across the whole nation is a small positive net gain, even after estimates for services used are taken into consideration.

Illegal immigration has both negative and positive impacts on different parts of the economy. As noted above, wages for low-skilled workers go down [though minimally]. But that means the rest of America benefits by paying lower prices for things like restaurant meals, agricultural produce and construction. Another negative impact is on government expenditures. Since undocumented workers generally don't pay income taxes but do use schools and other government services, they are seen as a drain on government spending. There are places in the United States where illegal immigration has big effects (both positive and negative). But economists generally believe that when averaged over the whole economy, the effect is a small net positive. & #8230; the economic impact of illegal immigration is far smaller than other trends in the economy, such as the increasing use of automation in manufacturing or the growth in global trade. Those two factors have a much bigger impact on wages, prices and the health of the U.S. economy. (Davidson)

The U.S. economy spread over the nation then is, according to most, either marginally drained or marginally improved by the existence of illegal workers. So, then why is it such a heated debate, largely because it has no real tracking mechanisms as one side of the debate cannot be definitively answered, and in the U.S. we are all about accountability and evidence-based economics. This is not to say that if the U.S. instituted a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Illegal Immigration Effect on U.S. Economy &amp Schools.  (2010, December 2).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/illegal-immigration-effects-economy/70510

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"Illegal Immigration Effect on U.S. Economy &amp Schools."  Essaytown.com.  December 2, 2010.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/illegal-immigration-effects-economy/70510.