Immigration Trends

In looking for some data for a previous post, I came across the following from the Pew Hispanic Center:image

The graph is interesting for a variety of reasons, but let’s stick to the most obvious for this brief post:  it shows that the great magnet to the US is, not surprisingly, jobs.  When there is greater demand for labor in the US economy, more labor flows in.  This is basic, basic economics. 

As such, perhaps we ought to consider this fact in, you know, making policy?

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Political Theory, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Console says:

    I’m not a big “markets in everything” guy, but it is definitely annoying to run into people that think immigration isn’t governed by economics. As if someone is going to leave everything they know and love just to go be poor and unemployed in America. It just doesn’t work like that. Immigration regulates itself. And to the extent that you think you are actually going to deny real labor demands… well that’s how you get millions of illegal immigrants in your country. Reality can’t be quota’d.

  2. @Console: Indeed.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    The real policy should be to resist the urge to allow an massive increase in illegal immigration during the good times because eventually the good times will end but they will still be here.

    Of course, while watching Up with Chris Hayes on Saturday, Feb 2, they used the data to propose free movement of people into and out of the U.S. they skipped over the part that over 100 million people in the third world would love to migrate to the U.S.

  4. Justinian says:


    In reply to Console, who wrote:

    It is definitely annoying to run into people that think immigration isn’t governed by economics.

    I suppose Console will be annoyed.

    What was the Immigration and Control Act of 1986? It was not economics: it was federal statutory law. If enforced, employers would be hit with heavy fines for employing unlawful aliens, and the illegal immigration rates into this country would be vastly different: be quite close to zero, in fact.

    Similarly, all countries that have states at all have laws on immigration. And when Mexico, through lax enforcement, allowed people from Guatemala virtually to invade the State of Chiapas in the south, the people there were close to revolting against the Mexican federal government.

    A succession of presidential administrations, from Clinton, through Bush II, to Obama of the present day, have studiously avoided enforcing the Immigration and Control Act of 1986. This has caused some people to believe that immigration is uncontrollable. It is not.

    What is out of control is a government in Washington that takes a fifth of the gross domestic product of this country to itself and yet cannot perform even the most basic government functions.