Illegal Immigratiion for Decades, Congress

For example a study in 1982-83 had found that illegal aliens were contributing more to the economy than the state was spending on them. (Cited in LeMay, ed. 1989, 10)

There is much confusion in connection with the economic impact. Some studies feel that illegal aliens contribute very little considering the fact that they are usually employed in low paying jobs.

Economists have consistently argued back and forth as to whether or not illegal immigrants are actually driving down wages and making working conditions even worse. Some economist saw it from a different angle. They felt that some employers need to fill the low wage niche as they need to make some profit too and this niche can only be filled by illegal aliens who are willing to work at very low wages. If it had not been for those immigrants, some small firms would go out of business. This is a documented fact. When the Bracero program ended in California, many farmers had to close their business and move. Some went to Mexico while others simply sold their farms because they were unable to employ workers at the minimum wage level. Only lettuce and citrus growers in the state could raise the wages, most others couldnt afford the luxury and went out of business.

Economist Walter Fogel, however, has presented one strong argument against illegal immigrants as he says that the influx of illegal immigrants has caused problems for blacks, legal residents of Hispanic origin as they lost the jobs that were previously available to them.

Policy makers have tried to stem the flow by a variety of measures including laws that called for stricter sealing of borders, providing amnesty, and making economic conditions in the U.S. less favorable and attractive. And to some extent they have succeeded in stemming the flow. But the problem is far from gone. Illegal immigrants have found their own ways of surviving in the country where policy makers have developed stricter rules for employers and employee screening has become mandatory. They still however manage to get their papers through the back door and find work. If not through fake papers, then they resort to low paying jobs and many employers wouldnt mind hiring them because of the easy terms on which they are willing to work.


Muller and Espanshade 1985, 11-12; LeMay 1987, 73-102; and Stanley Lieberson, a Piece of the Pie (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1980).

LeMay Michael. 1985. The Struggle for Influence. Lanham, Md.: University Press.


leave a Comment