2003 July 22 Tuesday
Illegal Immigration Drives Down Wages, Raises Taxes

Fred Dickey has written a long excellent article on immigration for the Los Angeles Times entitled Undermining American workers

What frustrates him is his conviction that a procedure is already in place that would "immediately identify 70% of the illegal workforce." He explains that as a part of the 1986 immigration law, a voluntary employee verification pilot program was established, and is still operating. Under the program, the validity of Social Security cards and green cards can be quickly checked on all new employees by phone or online. He says the system could easily be expanded into a mandatory nationwide computer hookup by cross-indexing the data bases of the immigration service with the Social Security Administration. The effect would be that honest employers could instantly ascertain the legality of their workforce, and dishonest employers would have no excuse for hiring undocumented workers.

Bill Strasberger, a spokesman for the immigration service, says the pilot program is considered successful. "Employers using it are pleased, and so are we. It provides verification with confidentiality." Asked if it would be expanded or made mandatory by Congress, he laughed briefly, then said, "It really is the direction we need to move in."

Dickey describes the process of how in areas with large numbers of illegal aliens in many industries companies that hire legal native workers and pay taxes are being driven out of business by illegal workers and businesses that pay under the table. It is not possible to compete legally with the underground economy that illegal aliens are creating. This drives down wages of unskilled legal workers, decreases tax collection, and at the same time increases the demand for government services for health care and other services. Poor legal workers make even less money and so can't afford health care insurance and other basics. At the same time, illegals also get medical care and other services paid for by governments while many of them get paid under the table.

There are solutions to the illegal alien problem that the article doesn't mention. One is to build a wall on the entire border with Mexico. Another is to authorize and order state and local law enforcement authorities to take illegals into custody and hold them for deportation. Illegal immigration is a solvable problem if only the politicians were willing to try to solve it.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 July 22 12:03 AM  Immigration Economics

Steven said at July 22, 2003 10:42 AM:

Here's something I've been wondering... Lets say we take the top 2 countries with the most illegal immigrants and stop allowing legal immigrants from there using the number of illegals as our case that the quota for their country is being filled, would the amount of illegal immigration go up? Would the current illegal immigrant arguements still hold water?

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2003 12:01 PM:

Steve, there are a few problems with that approach:

1) It punishes those who go thru legal channels. Shouldn't we be encouraging respect for the law at the level of individuals?

2) The legals tend to be much more skilled than the illegals. Why lower the quality of the immigrants?

3) The ratio of legals to illegals varies considerably. There are far more Mexicans entering the country illegally than legally. But in the case of, say, South Korea or Britain the opposite is surely the case. Cutting back on legals from Mexico would have negligible effects on the overall level of immigration from there and Mexico is our biggest source of immigrants.

4) Stopping legal immigration would not provide a disincentive for illegal immigration. If we want to stop illegal immigration (and I do) then we should focus on it. See my Immigration, Border Control archive for suggestions on how to do that. In particular, see the bottom of this post for some specific suggestions.

x said at January 11, 2004 7:56 AM:


i take no credit for this statement

joan said at April 5, 2006 2:02 PM:

Why do the illegals get away with breaking the law? The illegals get no punishment for their illegal, but Americans break the law they are punished. Why?????

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