Immigration and the US Economy

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Case Details:

Case Code : ECON029
Case Length : 25 Pages
Period : 1900-2007
Pub. Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : --
Industry : -
Countries : USA

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In 1790, there were 4 million Americans in our first census. Today, there are 301 million in the country, a 75-fold increase. Now, what happened to that nation, which suffered from the most terrible population explosion? It became the most prosperous and influential nation in human history - so what's the problem?1

- Ben Wattenberg, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)2, in response to opposition to immigration, in August, 2007

"Standard economic theory predicts that the shifts in the supply of labor caused by immigration should produce some economic gains for natives. But every attempt to measure the size of those gains based on actual data shows that it is extremely small…Moreover, those gains are generated by the wage losses suffered by natives in competition with immigrants, who in the case of illegals tend to be the poorest and least-educated Americans. Lowering their wages so that the rest of society can be made imperceptibly richer is hardly sound public policy."3

- Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies, June 2006


On August 10, 2007, George W. Bush (Bush), President of the United States (US), announced new measures to address some of the challenges thrown up by the high levels of immigration into the US. The announcement followed the rejection of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill – a bill that dealt with immigration issues including those relating to homeland security – in both legislative bodies. Bush said that the new measures represented steps that his administration could take "within the boundaries of existing law to better secure [US] borders, improve worksite enforcement, streamline existing temporary worker programs, and help new immigrants assimilate into American society."4

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Immigration and the US Economy - Next Page>>

1] Randy Hall, "Report: Immigration Could Add 100 Million to US by 2060,", August 31, 2007.

2] The American Enterprise Institute was founded in 1943. It is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare. (Source:

3] Steven Camarota and Tamar Jacoby, "What to do on Immigration,", June 23, 2006.

4] Michael Sung, "Bush Administration Unveils New Immigration Reforms,", August 10, 2007.

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