Illegal Immigration

June 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Illegal immigration means, migration of foreign citizens into a particular country where such people do not meet the legal requirements for immigrating to that country. In simple terms, they violate the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration, in general consists of people from poor countries pursuing better life opportunities in more developed countries.

The flow of illegal immigration is almost entirely from countries of lower socioeconomic levels to countries of higher socioeconomic levels, and particularly from developing nations to developed nations. While there are many other reasons associated with immigration, the most common motivation for illegal immigrants is the pursuit of greater economic opportunities and quality of life in the destination country.

Potential immigrants believe the probability and benefits of successfully migrating to the destination country are greater than the costs. These costs may include restrictions living as an illegal immigrant, leaving family and ways of life behind, and the probability of being caught and probably resulting in sanctions.

The neoclassical economic model focuses only at the probability of success in immigrating and finding employment, and the increase in real income an illegal immigrant generally expects. Illegal workers in this model are successful in finding employment by being willing to be paid lower wages than native-born workers are, sometimes even below the minimum wage.

A bifurcating labor market in developed countries creates a demand for unskilled immigrant labor to fill undesirable jobs that native-born citizens do not wish to take, regardless of the wages offered. These so-called “underclass” jobs are jobs such as harvesting crops, unskilled labor in landscaping and construction, house-cleaning, and maid and busboy work in hotels and restaurants, all of which have a significant number of illegal workers and such jobs native-born citizens do not take.

Since there is a decline in the middle-class blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and industry, native-born youth have chosen to acquire higher degrees now that there are fewer blue-collar careers that a worker with no formal education can find. The majority of new blue-collar jobs are the “underclass” work as mentioned earlier, and things to highlight are its unreliability (being temporary), subservient roles and a lack of room for advancement.

Whereas, entry-level white-collar and service jobs are much more appealing and encouraging. They offer advancement opportunities for native-born workers to enter the dominant educated class, even if the job pays the same or less than manual labor does. Hence, this theory maintains that, in a developed country like the US, where now only 12% of the labor force has less than a high school education, there is a lack of native-born workers who have no other alternative but to take undesirable manual labor jobs.

Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, have much lower levels of education. They are still willing to take “underclass” jobs due to their much higher relative wages than those in their home country. Since illegal immigrants often anticipate working only temporarily in the destination country, the lack of opportunity for advancement does not pose as a problem for them. This was proved by a Pew Hispanic Center poll of over 3,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico in the US, which stated that 79% would voluntarily join in a temporary work that will allow them to work legally for several years but then required them to leave.

Per the structural demand theory, just the willingness to work undesirable jobs, rather than for unusually low wages, is what gives illegal immigrants, an employment. The theory also states that cases like this prove that there is no direct competition between unskilled illegal immigrants and native-born workers. It is just that illegal immigrants “take jobs that no one else wants”.


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