Deeper into the Shadows: The Unintended Consequences of Immigration Worksite Enforcement
Before the onset of the Great Recession, immigrant labor was cited as a boon to the US economy. Since the economic downturn in 2008 and the rise in US unemployment, some analysts and politicians have turned on that immigrant workforce and their employers, arguing that deporting eight million undocumented immigrant workers would create eight million new jobs for the native-born.
This over-simplified equation ignores the complicated and inter-dependent roles that immigrants play in the economy. A 2010 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute on the economic contributions of immigrants in the 25 largest metropolitan areas noted that immigrants contributed to the economy in direct relation to their share of the population; made up 20 percent of the population in those areas; and were responsible for 20 percent of economic output.
This article by noted journalist Jeffrey Kaye illustrates the dilemmas involved in our current worksite enforcement strategy. What happens to businesses and economies when audits result in mass firings? What happens to those workers and their families when they are fired? Does the current system really benefit anyone?
Kaye, J. (2011). Deeper into the Shadows: The Unintended Consequences of Immigration Worksite Enforcement. Washington DC: Immigration Policy Center.