Thursday, June 09, 2011

Immigrants and skills

A new study will show that higher skilled immigrants outnumber lower-skilled.  Rather breathlessly, the Washington Post article asserts that the finding "could have profound political and economic implications in the national debate over immigration."

This is an interesting finding but I don't see how it will have any implication except at the margins.  The debate over immigration is focused squarely on undocumented immigrants, who have less education and fewer skills.  The debate will remain there regardless of the skilled/unskilled ratio.


Tambopaxi 8:55 AM  

I think this is the first time many of us are seeing this (the Brookings) study. I can see at least two points that merit further discussion in the future:

1. Legal status of immigrants. The WP is not clear (and I've not read the Brookings report itself), but I have the sense that the "more qualified" (educated) are more likely to be in country on a legal basis. It'd be interesting to see if there's some correlation between qualification/education status and legal status. If there is, might there be some point in time at which legal immigrants outnumber illegal immigrants?

2. The competition for jobs scenario: the WP article asserts (or raises the specter, anyway) that the "more qualified/educated" immigrants could be competing with U.S. college graduates for the same jobs. I know, I know, there are a myriad of questions/arguments that can be made to rebut this assertion, but to the degree that this point attracts public attention (it got mine; my youngest child falta one year in college), it could expand and/or change the debate(s) regarding the role of immigration in the U.S....

Greg Weeks 10:19 AM  

Legal immigrants already outnumber illegal immigrants by at least three times or so. And I understand your second point, but I have a hard time picturing it becoming a rallying cry of any sort.

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