Re: Immigration

When discussing immigration, we must understand that immigration as a whole isn’t inherently good nor bad. A more productive way of looking at immigration is: good immigration and bad immigration.

Immigrants that assimilate to the culture, have economic benefits, commit little crime, give jobs to natives, are socially cohesive are generally good (and vice-versa). Bad immigrants are bad whether legal or illegal.

This is a joint post written by Zeke Jeffrey, Unorthodox Theory, and AJ.


-Zeke Jeffrey

A few decades ago, a large amount of immigrants moved to a county in Miami, Florida. People often cite the “Mariel Boatlift Study” which shows this hoard of immigrants didn’t deflate wages in the long run (Card 1989). But, this study has its flaws. It was measuring one group in one area, instead of continuous mass migration into the United States. It also didn’t account for different classes of people being affected. The immigrants were largely high school dropouts, and when you measure the effect on actual high school dropouts, not the general population, you find a significant decrease in wages. (Borjas 2017)

A Dutch meta-analysis was conducted on 18 studies done over 28 years on the impact of immigration into the labor market. These 18 studies provided 344 different estimates on the impact of wages. The authors of the meta-analysis controlled for a number of variables, including differences between the areas in the studies (most looked at America, but some looked at European countries) and even political bias from the original researchers. This meta-analysis concluded a 1% increase of immigrants into the labor market produced a 0.119% decrease in wages (Longhi et al. 2004). Not big, right? But, this looks at the overall effect on all wages. When talking about immigration, the main problem is low skill immigrants and how they affect low skill workers. The wages of upper class people may be largely raised by floods of low skill immigrants. So, we should be wary of this 0.119% number. If we looked at the overall effect on lower skill workers, the decrease would likely be much larger. 

One of the better studies on immigration’s effect on wages is done by Ted Mouw in 2016. Mouw found the two primary methods of measuring the effect of immigration on wages to have some major issues in how they sway the data. To correct for the issues he found, he used the Longitudinal Employer Household Data set. Mouw finds that a 0.0355 increase in immigration of high school dropouts caused a -0.0016% (mean) effect on wages (Mouw 2016). Once again, doesn’t look huge, but of course we should look at the percentage increase required to get that effect. A 1% increase in high school dropouts immigrating would result in a 0.04% decrease in wages. A 10% increase in high school dropouts immigrating would result in a 0.45% decrease in wages. Once again, not a big effect, but a noticeable one.

A recent study managed to look at the short-run impacts of immigration on construction workers. The importance of short run impacts are debatable. From a populist perspective, they are more important than long-run growth (to a degree obviously), because telling working class people to move and work for companies they don’t like may be harmful for social stability. I would just reference the Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro conversation for more understanding of a populist position there. Austrian economists love to talk about the long run effects, because that is more important to them, and in response, Alan Keynes simply says, “In the long run, we are all dead.” That is a subjective view on long run vs. short run, but nevertheless, the data is still good to recognize. In this study, they find a 10% increase in immigrant workers decreased the wages of construction workers by at least 3.7%. They also find an 10% increase in immigrant workers would increase unemployment by at least 3.7 points – this is the overall unemployment rate (Merel and Rutledge 2017).

Another big point made is that GDP is positively affected by immigration. As more people move in, there are more consumers and more people working, so we see the economy grow. But does this help natives? The original argument for this point comes from leading immigration economist, George J. Borjas. But, what people ignore is, within the same text, Borjas states,

“This contribution to the aggregate economy, however, does not measure the net benefit to the native-born population.”

Borjas (2013)

He finds 97.8% of the economic growth actually goes back towards immigrants in the form of wages and benefits (Borjas 2013). But, let’s assume that part never happened – would it matter? Actually, no it wouldn’t. GDP growth tells us very little about a nation becoming successful. GDP doesn’t tell us about the quality of goods, about the people receiving the benefits of economic “growth”, how well particular industries such as health are serving the consumers, etc. 


-Unorthodox Theory

The link between immigration and crime has long been a topic of debate for both the left and the right. Many media sites and think tanks like CATO have asserted that immigrants have a lower crime rate and that more immigrants means less crime. Libertarians especially love to spout this talking point, and the media loves to do this also. Hopefully, this article goes through the studies and explains what the truth actually is.

The CATO Institute and Immigration

The CATO Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh and Michelangelo Landgrave have promoted their study entitled, “Criminal Immigrants: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin,” which makes the conclusion that immigrants don’t commit a large amount of crime (Landgrave and Nowrasteh 2017). According to them, they used The United States Census’s American Community Survey (CAS). Nowrasteh and Landgrave also say that,

The ACS counts the incarcerated population by their nativity and naturalization status, but local and state governments do not record whether the prisoner is an illegal immigrant. As a result, we have to use common statistical methods to identify illegal immigrant prisoners by excluding incarcerated respondents who have characteristics that they are unlikely to have.

Those characteristics also have an odd cut off as they have to have characteristics of immigrants from 1982-1986. Disregarding the strange cut-off for now, Nowrasteh and Landgrave use this method as even criminologist have a hard time getting statistics on illegal immigrants as “proof” of citizenship is based off of self-reporting (Rubenstein 2016).

One of CATO’s characteristics is that of not receiving welfare, unless they have a child who is eligible. How do they get this information? Most likely from self reporting, as they have no way to actually prove that the person is/ is not on welfare. It’s all based on hoping that it’s the true answer. Besides the strange cut-off, Peters (2017) looked at CATO’s entire report and did the math. He found that immigrants are 58.6% more likely to be incarcerated when compared to native citizens and that the actual incarceration number is 1.68% (CATO reported it to be 0.85%). He concludes:

The Cato Institute’s numbers are not based on any proven data. Their estimates always favor dramatically increasing illegal immigrant populations as a whole while minimizing illegal immigrant incarcerated populations. The numbers provided above assume that the survey data relied on by Cato is accurate. It is likely that there are far more illegals incarcerated, placing the number well over the citizen incarceration number.

What’s strange is how CATO compares the illegal immigrant crime rate to the general population and not by race, but that’s not important. When people talk about immigrants, the usually talk about Hispanic immigrants; and surprise, illegal and legal Hispanics commit more crime than white,Asian, and black immigrants (both legal and illegal). As Table 1 in CATO’s chart shows:


CATO is right to say that more educated immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, but this could be a result of them having a higher IQ, and how lower IQ correlates with criminality (Theory 2018).

Rubenstein is also right when he says that,

Despite the difficulty in determining immigrant crime rates, Hispanics have higher crime rates than the majority white population, and many immigrants are Hispanic” (Rubenstein 2016)

Nowrasteh (2018) also looked at Texas and found similar results as he did in his study with Landgrave. Alex seems to have been responding to a report released by the Crime Prevention Research Center, but they too have been responding to Alex (Crime Prevention Research Center 2018).

More Immigrants, Less Crime?

Christopher Ingraham wrote an article on The New York Times and said this:

Another study, published in March in the journal Criminology, looked at population-level crime rates: Do places with higher percentages of undocumented immigrants have higher rates of crime? The answer, as the chart above shows, is a resounding no” (Ingraham).

The chart he’s referring to is this one:


Light and Miller, 2018

The results were the same even after Light and Miller controlled for economic and demographic factors. The problem with this study and similar ones is that crime has been going down for years now, but to use this as evidence that immigrants don’t commit more crime is bad.

Gramlich (2018)

Similar studies have all come to the same conclusion, but none of them acknowledge that crime has been going down, but just because crime has been going down, it doesn’t mean that some groups don’t commit a disproportionate amount of crime.

Immigrant Crime:

Whether immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime or not is still muddy. We know the race/ ethnicity of the offender, but not their status. Regardless, we have an idea — for now. Mortensen (2017)  found that most illegals routinely commit felonies; and Camarota (2018) also found:


Of course, federal crimes constitute a small percentage of crimes overall – but it’s something we can at least measure.

It’s unknown if immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime, but it’s intellectually dishonest to claim that they commit little crime. CATO and immigration activists that claim this seem to be snake oil salesman.

Other Factors



When choosing immigrants for your country- we must factor how much crime and corruption is in that country. Immigration from corrupt countries boosts corruption in the destination country.

In Britain: Increased immigration from Pakistan and Bangladesh, countries that have substantial amounts of voter fraud, increase allegations of electoral fraud even after controlling for other minority shares, demographic characteristics, socio-economic deprivation, and anti-immigration attitudes.

Rates of cousin marriage tend to be high in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, which may have fostered norms of nepotism and in-group favoritism that persist over time. … Within Europe, migrants from countries with high rates of cousin marriage… are less likely to say it is wrong for a public official to request a bribe.

Carl 2017

Read More about this topic on the Arab Dampener


Analyzing migrant inflows and the number of terrorist attacks in 145 countries between 1970 and 2000 quantitatively demonstrates that an increase in immigration from a nation with high levels of terrorist activity is positively correlated with increased terrorist activity in the receiving nation.

“Increased terrorism is linked to increased migration from terror-prone nations and regions. The data from Germany and Turkey display a strong positive correlation between asylum-seeker migration and incidents of terrorism. “

Beck (2016)


There is a negative effect of immigrant pupils on native students. The increasing share of immigrant students is associated with a decline of school resources and quality. This can be shown by the state of California. By modeling education spending per student: if U.S. immigration had been restricted to its 1970 level, California would have spent 24% higher for each student in the year 2000.

Cross-country evidence shows that countries which experience an influx of low-skilled immigrants have negative changes in public expenditure per pupil and greater congestion in public schools.


More immigration tends to worsen a country’s healthcare efficiency

Immigration increases the number of infectious and parasitic disease patients in Sweden

The Environmental Burden

The environmental argument for reducing immigration to the United States is relatively straightforward and is based on the following five premises:

  • Immigration levels are at a historic high and immigration is now the main driver of U.S. population growth.
  • Population growth contributes significantly to a host of environmental problems within our borders.
  • A growing population increases America’s large environmental footprint beyond our borders and our disproportionate role in stressing global environmental systems.
  • In order to seriously address environmental problems at home and become good global environmental citizens, we must stop U.S. population growth.
  • We are morally obligated to address our environmental problems and become good global environmental citizens.
  • Therefore, we should limit immigration to the United States to the extent needed to stop U.S. population growth.

By scaling back, Americans can take a big bite out of pollution, sprawl and other environmental problems, while also setting a good example for those who land in the U.S. every year, lowering the nation’s collective carbon footprint significantly in the process.

Per capita ecological footprint increases when immigrants come to the United States

Methane Production. The gas methane contributes to the greenhouse effect, which is increasing the world’s temperature.

Freshwater Consumption. We are depleting or polluting freshwater much faster than it is being replaced. Mass immigration exacerbates the shortage of freshwater.

Industrial CO 2 Production. CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the primary gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. CO2 is perhaps our worst and most immediate environmental danger, and immigrants triple their CO2 production by coming to the United States.

Energy Consumption. Ninety-three percent of U.S. energy comes from a non-renewable source, and each source degrades the environment in some way.3 The average immigrant more than triples his energy consumption.

Cattle Production. While cattle production may seem benign, it is not. Cattle emit methane, cause soil erosion, pollute streams, and require the conversion of forest into rangeland. Immigration more than quintuples the average immigrant’s effect on the production of cattle.

Fertilizer Consumption. Although fertilizer increases short-term crop yields, it also salts the earth, poisoning land and water systems. The average immigrant increases his use of fertilizer by a factor of six upon arriving in America.

Fish Production. Nearly half of America’s native fish species are in danger of extinction. On average, when people immigrate to the United States, their contribution to the problem increases six fold

FairUS 2012

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