Immigration Reform and Labor Markets: A Discussion

Matta, Benjamin N.
August 1991
Labor Law Journal;Aug91, Vol. 42 Issue 8, p544
Academic Journal
This article comments on the papers presented during a panel discussion on immigration reform and labor markets in the U.S., at the 1991 Spring Meeting of the Industrial Relations Research Association. All papers reminds why immigration reform is necessary and why it is difficult to achieve. Immigration reform is necessary because the current policy adds to the labor market difficulties of disadvantaged native-born workers, particularly those in urban labor markets and those in agricultural work. Immigration policy is inconsistent with other national human resource policies, as the Briggs and the Papademetriou and Lowell papers point out. For example, the current policy makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the placement of employment and training program participants. The paper by Thompson and Martin illustrates the point that, as is the case with so many other policies, there are those who gain and those who lose in the instance of the current immigration policy. Those who gain have the political power to see to it that the benefits are as large as politically tolerable. There is no doubt that immigration generates positive effects on the economy. The questions are whether or not these benefits could be generated in a more efficient manner, instead of through the present immigration policy; and whether the costs, especially in relation to the impacts on the labor market, have been correctly conceived.


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