Immigration as Political Theater

December 24, 2014. In a column that ran in the Chicago Tribune and more than a dozen other papers, Benjamin Powell, senior fellow of the Independent Institute and director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University, argues that President Obama’s executive action on immigration will have only small, and generally positive, effects on the economic and fiscal climate.

Allowing illegal immigrants to work openly and legally allows them to use their skills in the jobs and industries where they can contribute the most value, rather than working off the books in occupations where black market employment is harder to detect. This alone, the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates, should boost the wages of those immigrants who qualify to work legally by 5 percent to 10 percent, which indicates that they are creating more valuable goods and services for the rest of us.

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