I just saw a presentation by George Borjas, a Harvard economist specializing in immigration issues. His research seems to support the common-sense opinion on the effects of large-scale illegal immigration: it has some positive economic benefits, but it also redistributes wealth somewhat from poorer Americans to richer Americans. Since illegal immigrants compete for jobs mainly at the bottom of the economic scale, their arrival tends to increase the wealth of those who use labor (business owners and the upper-middle class), while decreasing the wages of unskilled Americans.
This is perhaps not very surprising, and refines my previous article’s view as to why illegal immigration has continued for so long: it has some benefits, and those benefits accrue primarily to middle and upper class Americans, who tend to vote at a higher rate than the poor. Only recently has the cultural backlash against Latinization reached a level necessary to unbalance the old equation and force immigration reform.
Though most of Lou Dobbs’ rhetoric is of little value, he is right on this: America cannot begin to have a rational immigration policy until it can control who immigrates.