One of the key reasons we have illegal immigration in the U.S. is the limit on the number of people let in legally.
I believe that limit is about 700,000 per year, set by the Immigration Act of 1990.
If you restrict the supply of something (in this case, legal immigration) that is in high demand, an underground market will emerge to meet the unserved demand.
This is why it’s difficult to win the war on drugs or to raise minimum wage.
If you make drugs illegal, an underground economy emerges to supply the illegal drugs that are in demand.
If you raise the minimum wage to make it illegal to work for less than a certain amount, an underground economy of off-the-books jobs for people who are willing to work for less.
Sometimes, even legal loopholes emerge, like treating employees as independent contractors. I wrote about how one high minimum wage supporter I knew skirted the minimum wage law in his own business here.
I find it strange that anyone for immigration has not mentioned raising the limit on legal immigration. Why is 700,000 a good number? What can’t it be higher?
Rather, it seems they just want to illegal immigration to continue to happen. Why not make it legal?
I’m fine with immigration and I’m fine with having more than 700,000 per year. I’m not even sure we need to set an arbitrary limit.
Maybe there are good reasons, but I haven’t heard them, yet.
I think the vast majority of immigrants come here for an opportunity at a better life and to contribute, not by taking benefits, but by creating value through the market system and that letting them in makes us all better off.
Raising the limit also reduces the number of folks who come in illegally who may intend to cause harm, making it easier to keep tabs on them since they came through the official process (though I won’t kid myself into believing that official processes are good at that sort of stuff).