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Redefining Border Security

May 20, 2021

While the framework at the border for dealing with crossings has not substantively changed in decades, the recent changes in the makeup of migrant flows at the border require a new framework for addressing "border security." Given the large number of arrivals of children and families seeking asylum, which is legal under U.S. law, it is necessary to address the arrivals separately from the needs of securing the border from threats such as smuggling, contraband, or migrants seeking to evade capture. Specifically, the United States needs to set up separate systems for receiving and processing asylum seekers and vulnerable populations at the border and apprehending and processing other immigrants trying to make illegal entries.The following outlines recommendations for a new framework that recognizes a fundamental shift in migrant demographics at the border and the different components needed for dealing with each activity. Together, they provide a comprehensive approach to securing the border against crime, drugs, and terrorism, while addressing unauthorized migration and meeting legal obligations to receive and decide asylum claims.

America’s Demographic Challenge: Understanding the Role of Immigration

August 22, 2017

With numerous charts and graphs, this paper outlines the projected growth of various age segments of the U.S. population, showing that the native-born, working-age population will grow much more slowly than the foreign-born working-age population. The relative growth of the 65-and-over population will present economic challenges. In particular, the Social Security trust fund is projected to be depleted by 2034, assuming that current levels of immigration remain relatively constant. Policy changes will ultimately be needed to save the fund from depletion, including expanding the labor force by increasing immigration. In an aging population, there is a decline in workforce participation, which depresses economic growth. The arrival of working-age immigrants can counter, to some extent, the slowdown in economic activity as older workers retire. The relative demographic structure of immigrants vs. natives-with immigrants being more likely to be of working-age and to participate in the workforce-also impacts the federal budget. Modeling of a 2013 immigration reform bill found that the bill's legalization program and increase in legal immigration would reduce the federal deficit by $180 billion over 10 years. In general, though, current levels of immigration cannot entirely offset the economic and fiscal drag of our aging population. Liberalizing immigration will help, but other policy changes will be needed to reduce the federal deficit and stave off Social Security insolvency.

Culprit or Scapegoat? Immigration’s Effect on Employment and Wages

June 27, 2016

Over the past several decades, native-born Americans have become increasingly detached from the labor force, with declining rates of employment and labor force participation. Seeking explanations, many attempt to blame these trends on immigration itself, under the notion that immigrants both displace native-born workers and drive down their wages. Although superficially appealing, these arguments are ultimately overly simplistic and misguided, as they ignore several other factors driving these trends. Our research suggests that declining native-born labor force participation is largely due to the various options native-born individuals tend to have at their disposal to pursue non-labor force activities—namely retirement, disability, and school enrollment, rather than any direct competition from immigrants. Additionally, native- and foreign-born individuals tend to work in different industries. A majority of the predominantly foreign-born industries are composed of lesser-skill, lower-wage occupations, some of which have seen strong employment growth in recent years, and have even suffered from labor shortages.