ERIC Number: EJ988156
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Reference Count: 12
The Elusive Goal: The Quest for a Credible Immigration Policy
Briggs, Vernon M., Jr.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, v31 n4 p956-963 Fall 2012
For more than 30 years the United States has unsuccessfully struggled to reform its often maligned and massively abused immigration policies. Matters went awry following the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965. There were unexpected consequences. Intended to remove the overtly discriminatory features of the "national origins" admissions system in place since the 1920s, the legislation inadvertently ushered in the return of the phenomenon of mass immigration. The legislation had enacted a new immigration policy that had enormous labor market implications in terms of the numbers of people involved, but was essentially oblivious to the human capital endowments (i.e., skills, work experiences, educational attainment, or English-speaking abilities) of those who entered. Over the first decade of the 21st century, immigration flows were historically high regardless of the stark reality that employment opportunities were contracting and unemployment was either rising or virtually stagnant at high levels (Camarota, 2011, pp. 3-5). The starting point for all immigration reform efforts must be making the immigration system enforceable. According to the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (CIR), a comprehensive strategy is needed to combat illegal immigration. It will require enhanced border and visa management to reduce both illegal entries and visa "overstayers," a commitment to strict enforcement of employer sanctions at worksites, and the speedy removal of apprehended illegal immigrants from the country. As for legal immigration, CIR called for changes to the existing admission system so as to reduce the inflow of so many poorly educated and unskilled adults. Furthermore, CIR recommended elimination of the admission category for "diversity immigrants." CIR also recommended that the number of refugees each year be capped at 50,000 persons. The author thinks that implementing CIR's recommendations, therefore, would lower the inflow of legal immigrants by about 30 percent a year (thereby decreasing the size of the labor supply). This scale reduction, plus any further decline caused by reducing the number of illegal immigrants and accepting its refugee ceiling, would collectively improve the skill composition of the labor supply (by reducing the ranks of low-skilled workers). In the process, these reforms would help the nation achieve its broader economic objectives of reducing both the levels of unemployment and poverty while simultaneously assisting needy members of the low-skilled labor force to find work and to raise their incomes.
Descriptors: Immigration, Public Policy, Social Action, Federal Legislation, State Legislation, Labor Supply, Undocumented Immigrants, Refugees, Unemployment, Poverty, Economic Impact, Unskilled Workers
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Immigration and Nationality Act 1965