Top 3 Myths About Immigration

From, Ben Powell, professor of economics at Suffolk University:


h/t:  Mike Munger

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, 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. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Agreed 100% on No. 1. Largely agree with No. 2.

    No dice on No. 3; it’s not a myth that immigration — legal and illegal — depress wages. That’s a fact. Especially in the case of illegal immigration and especially in the food service, construction and hotel service industries. Why pay a prevailing or a minimum wage when you can pay a lot less to an illegal even on the books and in many instances far less and off the books too?

    The biggest myths about immigration, however, are not its economic impacts. They’re political in nature.

    The far right is operating under three myths: (1) that illegal immigration can be “cured” by building a fence, (it can’t) (2) that illegals already here can and should all be deported (a prepesterous notion), (3) that illegal immigration is grounds to amend the Constitution regarding birthright citizenship (it’s not) (although ironically enough many if not most of these kooks don’t even know that’s a Constitutional right). The far left, not to be outdone, is operating under three myths: (1) that illegal immigration does not depress wages (it does), (2) that there are not any sovereign interests in securing physical borders (there are), (3) that blanket amnesty is the “cure” to the illegal immigration problem (it’s not). Last but not least, both sides share a myth, but for widely divergent reasons: that increasing work visas to highly-skilled, highly-educated technical workers somehow is a bad thing.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:


    Where is your evidence that Myth #3 isn’t a myth? The video didn’t posit any evidence, but all of the evidence is easily accessible on the learnliberty website. Where’s yours if this myth is “true?”

  3. Has any country ever advanced forward with out positive population growth? If so I am not aware of it. I would argue we should be doing much more to increase skilled labor immigration to compete (mostly with the Chinese & Indians) in this century. Also, as an example, if I have a medical condition I don’t care if my doctor is from the state of Georgia or the country of Georgia as long as he is the best doctor. I think the influx of unskilled labor is more open to debate about the positive/negative affects, but in general we need population growth to continue to compete.

  4. Ben says:

    TN, he specifically dealt with your point. He admitted that there is a small effect of depressed wages only in the lowest income sector, which would include those industries you mentioned. But it’s not true for the rest of the employment market.

  5. Trumwill says:

    The video didn’t posit any evidence, but all of the evidence is easily accessible on the learnliberty website. Where’s yours if this myth is “true?”

    All I’m seeing on the site are some videos, most of which don’t involve immigration. Can you point me to the links?

    Powell concedes that illegal immigration may have negative effects on wages for the low end of the economic spectrum, which is my main area of concern. He says that the depression – if it exists – is “minimal”, but I’d like to have a better idea of what it is.

    The video is long on assertions, but short on accompanying data.

    (My personal view on the subject is relatively middling. I don’t think it’s an unmitigated good or that open borders are desirable, but I also think that if they all disappeared tomorrow, we would discover that at least a lot of them were necessary. I also think that a lot of the questions about whether they are good or bad are best answered with another question: good or bad for whom?)

  6. Southern Hoosier says:

    That video is a joke. Here is a the correct video on immigration, The video talks about just legal immigration and not the almost a million illegal immigrates that enter our country every year.

  7. Southern Hoosier says:

    Nationally, labor statistics show that one of five American men in their prime years – age 25 to 54 – does not go to work, the highest it’s been since record-keeping started after World War II, and also worse than other major Western economies. As recently as the 1960s, only one in 20 men in that group didn’t have a job.

    And what happened in 1965 to change all that? Congress changed the immigration and flood the job market with low skill cheap labor. So where are all those jobs that supposedly been created?

  8. Southern Hoosier says:

    The report shows that, in the year following the end of the recession in June 2009, foreign-born workers gained 656,000 jobs, while native-born workers lost 1.2 million jobs. As a result, the unemployment rate fell for immigrants, from 9.3 percent to 8.7 percent, while it rose for the native-born, from 9.2 percent to 9.7 percent. During the recovery from 2009 to 2010, the immigrant working-age population also increased by 709,000 after a decrease the previous year. But employment for immigrants has not recovered to pre-recession levels, and their wages fell sharply in 2009-2010.

    Lower wages for themselves and everyone else that has to compete with them in the job market.

  9. Neil Hudelson says:


    My bad. The liberty site doesn’t have much. I had other immigration studies open and didn’t realize which was/wasn’t Consider that part of my statement retracted (and my apologies to TN–although I’d still like to see some data backing up his assertions).

    Here are some pdf’s of the studies I was looking at:

    Little to no effect:

    Possible net increase, but statistically insignificant:

    Some other articles, with references to studies: (this one compares and contrasts some studies, using one study to dismantle an older one)

  10. Neil Hudelson says:


    My comment was caught in moderation for some reason, but in short:

    I wasn’t on, and I thought I was (wrong tab). So actually learnliberty doesn’t have much backing it up. My apologies to TN, but I’d still like to see some evidence backing his assertion. If my comment is release from moderation, I’ve included the links to the studies I was looking at, for your enjoyment.



  11. @Neil:

    The multiple links set off the filters. I have released the comment.

  12. Trumwill says:

    If you feel so inclined (have them bookmarked or still open, etc.), feel free to email them to me at my handle at gmail. If you’ve already closed everything out, no biggie.

  13. Trumwill says:

    Steven & Neil: Thanks.