We're Coming to America: The Economics of Immigration

Jan 17, 2006Jan 19, 2006
<p>B-339 Rayburn House Office Building</p>


Session One: Tuesday, January 17
Help Wanted (or not): Immigrants and the Labor Market in the US
Dr. Paul Harrington
Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University

Session Two: Thursday, January 19
Burden or Boon: A Debate on Illegal Immigration
Dan Griswold
CATO Institute
Jim Edwards
The Hudson Institute

Moderated by:
Dr. Donald Boudreaux
George Mason University

The United States of America has long been the land of opportunity. Today's immigrants come to America in search of the American dream of opportunity and prosperity. However, some critics fear that increased immigration poses security risks and strains economic and social resources.

Immigration is shaping up to be a key issue heading into an election year. Policymakers are faced with the challenge of finding alternatives to the current system, which appears to be broken. Porous borders, limited visas for students and skilled workers, and a growing illegal immigrant population are obvious indicators that the current system is not working. Thus Congress must find creative ways to address the situation while protecting national security and promoting economic growth.

What seems to be missing from the current immigration debate is a discussion of the impact of immigration on the US economy. How policymakers understand and react to this contentious issue will affect our economy for years to come. To enhance the policymaker's understanding of the economics of immigration, the Mercatus Center will host a two-day course for congressional staff that will address the following questions:

  • How does immigration affect the American economy? What is its impact on the labor market both here and in the home countries of immigrants?
  • In the wake of the French riots, how do the American and the European policies on immigration compare? What lessons can be learned from the failure to integrate immigrants into the economy?
  • How does illegal immigration affect the economy and the labor market? What are some viable alternatives to the current system in regards to illegal immigration?
  • Are open borders and the free flow of labor good for the US economy? Or do immigrants simply take jobs away from American workers?