For my final paper I was considering researching illegal immigration and its effects on the economy. Prior to my research for the paper, my understanding of the debate was that those who support tougher regulations on immigration felt that illegal immigrants take jobs away from Americans and are a drain on the economy by taking advantage of social welfare programs and by sending their earnings out of the country to their families, and those who oppose tougher regulations counter that immigrants only take jobs that Americans wouldn’t want anyway. But thus far my findings have disagreed with both of these arguments.
The biggest surprise to me about this issue is that illegal immigrants tend to actually pay more into social welfare programs than they take out. Studies have shown that although an estimated 75% of pay into Social Security and Worker’s Compensation, only around 35% of illegal immigrants who qualified for these benefits actually collected them. the main reason for this is that they are afraid that their illegal status will be uncovered during the intense amount of paperwork involved in anything that has to do with the government. Should this happen, they would be out of a job and sent back to their home country. It is often more financially beneficial to waive your social benefits and remain in the United States than to risk being deported and having to finance re-entry.
I have also found that illegal immigrants actually do take significant amounts of jobs away from Americans, particularly in the construction industry. The majority of illegal workers in the United States find work in unskilled or low-skill labor. Many Americans would gladly take these jobs but they are being out competed by illegal immigrants. Generally illegal immigrants will agree to work for less than American laborers, so the Americans either have to agree to a pay cut or find another job elsewhere. Either way illegal immigration significantly depresses this portion of the job market.