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This paper analyzes the history of immigration federalism in the United States and examines how other countries have created regional immigration systems to address the needs of individual areas. It subsequently looks at the problems with the current immigration system and why it is insufficient to meet states' needs. It then analyzes the multiple solutions that have been proposed. Finally, it looks at the remaining questions that must be addressed before moving forward with a new, state-based immigration program.
The Bipartisan Policy Center's review of law enforcement agencies in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Denver, and Los Angeles shows that the actual operation of local law enforcement agencies and their work with immigration enforcement agencies is more complex and nuanced than is often reported in the public debate.
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.
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.