Saturday, September 23, 2006

Unintended consequences of immigration policy

For some time now, it has been well documented that as border security goes up (e.g. all those impressive-sounding policies like Operation Gatekeeper) more illegal immigrants choose to stay in the United States. People are still willing to make the first trip, but less willing to take the risk and pay the money more than once, so instead of leaving the U.S. (and coming back seasonally) they stay.

Now there is a new twist with the current round of security measures. The NYT highlights Mexican workers who are rejecting agricultural work, and the dire straits of some growers in California. If you know that you’re going to stay in the U.S., then it’s logical to seek a job that is more permanent and less taxing.

So after billions of dollars, we get a system that does not stop people from coming, encourages them to stay, and creates incentives not to do certain work in the United States that needs to be done.


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