Our country is poised to get a brand new administration at the beginning of the year, and with it may come sweeping changes – many of them may be bad for undocumented immigrants. But are undocumented immigrants really responsible for lower wages and in effect taking jobs away from natural born citizens? The focus of this blog will be to take a look at the myths and facts about undocumented immigrants and the economy.

Myth 1: Do Undocumented Immigrants Really Lower Wages and Steal U.S. Jobs?

happy Mexican family with kids riding on parent's shoulders
happy Mexican family with kids riding on parent's shoulders

Fact: There’s a bit of truth to this claim in select regions of the U.S., such as agricultural and fruit growing hubs, and certain amount of landscape and construction industry work. But, when you look at the quality of jobs and applicants, we can say with near certainty that most of those positions are for low-skilled workers that would mainly go to high school dropouts. So, that’s who we’d have competing for these types of jobs, basically.

The starting wage for high school dropouts has basically dropped approximately 6 percent, according to a 2013 report by Harvard economist Georges J. Borjas.1

Myth 2: Does Immigration Help Improve the U.S. Economy?

Fact: On the flipside, economist Borjas noted that the average U.S. citizen’s wealth has increased by a net of 1 percent as a result of undocumented immigrants coming to work in America.

“While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices,” stated a 2006 letter addressed to President George Bush signed by nearly 500 economists, including five Nobel laureate recipients.

Here are some ways economists say migrants help the U.S. economy, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):

  • Migrants accounted for a 47% market increase in the U.S. from 1994 to 2014, and 70% in Europe over the past ten years.
  • Migrants give more in taxes and social contributions than they receive in benefits.
  • Migration boosts the working-age population and contribute to the to human capital development of receiving countries.

Myth 3: Migrant Workers Fill Jobs No One Else Would Do?

Fact: Many industries benefit from undocumented workers, so there’s definitely some truth to this adage. For example, migrants make up approximately half of all crop-related jobs in the U.S., according to the Department of Agriculture.

A mass deportation would significantly harm our agricultural output and have a negative impact on the price of vegetables and fruit. Likewise, the construction and landscape industries would see similar worker shortages and economic impacts.

Myth 4: The U.S. Couldn’t Afford the Mass Deportation of Millions of Immigrants

Fact: A mass deportation of undocumented immigrants in this country would cost an estimated $400 billion, which would in turn lower the gross domestic product (GDP) in this country by $1 trillion, according to economic, free-market think tank group American Action Forum. Suffice it to say, this would negatively add to the already stifling national deficit. Borjas has also estimated that the net wealth of American citizens has increased by $50 billion as a result of immigrants in the workplace. This surplus is thought to offset the projected loss of $50 billion if they weren’t paying into our system.

Myth 5: Immigration Doesn’t Work Effectively

Fact: Aside from the rare occasion of terrorism or a death caused by an undocumented immigrant, American overly focus on the negative aspects of immigration without giving much thanks to the benefits they provide our country. One instance of this is when industries hire immigrants they pay in taxes that to a large extent gets used by those U.S. workers who have lost out to migrants. Immigrants also bring social gains for our society with respect to new forms of ingenuity as well as cultural gains in the form of art, music, and diversity.

Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

Do you or someone you know need help with deportation defense or immigration status? If so, turn to a knowledgeable Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. For more than 15 years, our lawyers have been strong advocates for those foreign nationals and refugees wanting to come live and work in America. We have a strong and successful record of representing clients in all types of immigration cases, everything from basic immigration applications and work visas to complicated federal court deportation matters.

To set up a meeting to discuss your immigration matter, call today at (626) 684-3712 or (866) 227-5527 or by emailing using the form on the right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we represent individuals throughout the Los Angeles area as well as throughout the state of California.


1“Does Immigration Help the Economy? Five Facts About Undocumented Workers in The US” published in the International Business Times, November 16, 2016.