Reforming the Immigration Policy


The arising issues are not about immigration per se but the oversight regulations on the tax regimes as well as the inability of the employer to internalize the associated cost of hiring a low-skilled expatriate. Policymakers, unauthorized low-skilled immigrants, as well as employers, are the primary players influencing the shape and direction taken by the immigration debate. Immigrant workers seek destinations where they are more productive than their current locales (Rosenblum & Brick, 2011). The USA hosts over 12 million immigrants. A yearly additional influx of 5000 immigrants was experienced in the decade after the turn of the millennia (Hanson, 2009, p. 1). Prior to 2000, there was lax on containing the situation; thereafter, the policymakers have dedicated substantive resources to police entry points as a security measure on immigration. The general American population remains skeptical about the incentive brought about by immigration. Hanson (2009, p. 32) observes that few legislators appreciate their direct participation in solving immigration issues. Recent policy interventions have put unauthorized immigrants and employers on the spot (Hanson, 2009, p. 1). Acquiring Green Cards remain beyond reach for low-skilled immigrant workers. Pursuing the low-skilled temporary visa programs has a little economic life, and is thus challenging. Such situations make the economic input of immigrants to be low (Hanson, 2007). With regard to benefits accrued from the highly skilled vis-à-vis cost of low-skilled immigrant workers, the avenues of sourcing benefits could be retained or improved. This may translate to transferring the tax burden of immigrants to the wider public, which will be a relief to the employer (Hanson, 2009, p. 32). On the contrary, the cost burden and benefits can be aligned along with the likely employers, worker brackets, and households.

The continued rise in the supply of immigrants and low-skilled manpower has reduced earnings for native workers within the low wage bracket. For twenty years since 1980, the influx of low-skilled immigrants led to 9 percent of native-borns drop-out from high school (Hanson, 2005a, p. 3). Labor-intensive job opportunities continue to benefit from the influx in the supply and the downfall of wage levels for low-skill workers (Hanson, 2009, p. 3). The agriculture and textile industries are the benefiting industry segments. Hanson et al. (2001) cite that public surveys indicate that those opposed to policy reforms that lead to an influx of immigrants have marginal literacy levels. This reflects the doubts on embracing the concept of a global community. From a global perspective, cross-national movements tend to raise overall income as well as generate more incentives for those wishing to risk the switching of nations. Reforms on Immigration affect and depend on the speed at which the US economy innovates; the inflow of highly skilled expatriates and the proneness of regional economies to respond to the dynamics of the business cycle. In addition, the integrity of the financing institutions within the three echelons of governance (from local to federal levels) (Hanson, 2009, p. 32; Anderson 2011).

Low Skilled Labor Dilemma

Hanson (2009, p. 12) acknowledges that illegal immigration is the prime entry point for unskilled and semiskilled expatriates. Based on economic importance, this class of the labor force (accounting for 5 percent of the national figure) significantly drives the labor-intensive industries. Inferentially, this class of workers cannot be ignored. Hanson (2009, p. 1) observes that demographic evidence indicates that low skilled labor segment of the US aborigines is dwindling. In the prevailing status quo, Hanson (2009, p. 13) foresees a ramified implication of legal enforcement on immigrant labor inflows, on both low-skilled immigrants and dependent industries. On the national side, the reform agenda focus on addressing fiscal spending on securing borders and interior enforcement. On the immigrant side, reforms eliminating the ‘illegal’ tag can come at a surcharge for employment rights. This additional levy can be directly burdened on the employer or the worker’s emoluments (Hanson, 2009, p. 13). One drawback (within the labor market segments) related to the change of legal status is that response rates of unauthorized low-skilled expatriates to market conditions are positively dynamic and appealing to US employers compared to those with legally authorized status (Hanson, 2009, p. 1).

Highly Skilled Immigrant Workers

While focusing on the present immigration context and the need for revising the issue, Hanson (2005b, p. 56) presents two reform scenarios. One, the reform strategies can focus on altering the skill composition of the inbound manpower. From a staffing perspective, shifts will favor the admission of skilled foreign workers. The reform will end up allowing immigrants that will ameliorate the tax burden while relieving the state on public services demand. Hanson (2009, p. 13) argues that the aggregate impact of illegal immigrants as low-skilled manpower on the USA economy is dismal. Inferentially, the net productivity addition into the national economy by the low-skilled workers from foreign countries is substantially down, much as the labor-intensive stands to gain over time. Over time, the cumulative spending on fortifying borders against illegal entry is higher compared to the tax earnings from the exploitation of the low-skill manpower from the expatriates (Rosenblum, 2012). Two, opening a window (within a time frame) with restrictions that trim immigrant rights on access to public incentives. The timeframe lasts for a specified period since the entry into the country. During the period, access to public assistance as well as other public services is prohibited. From an economic perspective, the adverse impact of immigration on fiscal spending will be reduced significantly. Thus, the policy direction will focus on immigrants whose intention is to work to earn a living other than those seeking public benefits refuge. It is evident the tax burden is heavy to challenges of enhancing the education sector as well as upgrading the current status of infrastructure (Hanson, 2009, p. 25).

Innovation and Talent

The need to maintain high productivity for better living standards vests on the continuous supply of innovating minds. Key professions benefit in terms of knowledge building as well as expertise through research and development. Advancements in engineering, information, and technology as well as entertainment have benefited from rigorous innovation and creativity within the respective scholarly fields (Hanson, 2009, p. 26). The ability to maintain prominence in the innovation realms has seen a continuous supply of new products into the market. Immigration has contributed to the ease of constraints causing a slow pace of innovation. Hanson (2009, p. 26) notes that scholars from foreign nations have made it to the top of the graduate programs in US universities. Moreover, the list of scholarly patents made by foreigners has over time continued to exceed those of the natives. This makes the foreigners attractive to local employers to promote innovation within their establishments. Additionally, chances are high that the immigrant (regardless of their legal status) will give pay more taxes than the cost they generate when seeking local public services (Hanson, 2009, p. 26). Most students gain entry through student visas; however, retaining them after graduation remains a challenge. Hanson (2009, p. 27) has a positive view on the net economic benefit of retaining talented scholars when kept under productive use. Immediate efforts could involve strategies that prolong their stay even if not naturalizing them.

Scope for Policy Reforms

The necessary reforms put the US Congress on the spot as the favorite institution to cost-effectively deliver policy reforms. The incumbent president has already shown strong leadership will towards fast-tracking solutions to the underlying issues (Hanson 2009, p. 4). The incumbent president’s political wing may benefit mileage in the ensuing arrangement. Hanson (2009, p. 25) explains that a proposal to revive the immigration debate in May 2011 by the incumbent president had to be shelved due to its sensitivity. Thus, the path ahead of the reforms may face challenges. The policy reforms should provide legally acceptable immigration options (Hanson, 2009, p. 13). Nevertheless, there exists no panacea. An ideal and popular policy strategy will favor admitting low-skilled expatriates leading to a win-win situation. The US economy draws optimal benefits from the immigrant’s productivity and keeps the associated fiscal costs (in terms of public amenities and related enforcement spending) in check. In other words, this implies a conversion of illegal entrants into authorized immigrants will provide a terminal reprieve (Hanson, 2009, p. 13). The scope of policy reforms will be demonstrated by the provision of acceptable legal avenues of entry into the labor market for low-skilled expatriates. The reform should also provide fiscal spending on border security and enforcement (Franzblau, 1997). Reform agenda can draw inferences from the relationship between high immigration periods and times when economic performance is at peak levels. In addition, the non-responsive nature of legally authorized low-skilled immigrants to labor market dynamics and economic conditions.


Strategies applied to address underlying issues within the immigration subject will ultimately translate to policy designs. These will spell solutions on the legal channels of entry for the low-skilled manpower. This requires rigorous efforts and continuous revisits on the legislation. Key legislation on the spotlights will be on enforcement of immigration regulations. The state of the economy will add value to the design of the strategy to apply when checking immigrant inflows. This will justify the need to allow a higher influx of immigrants into the labor market as well as the increments in expenditure for enforcing laws on immigration. This will give an emotional reprieve for the affected. If the legal status of the immigrants remains sensitive, then the adverse impacts can be ameliorated creating incentives to ensure that concerned parties give precedence to the law. Hanson (2009) suggests a reward program for those abiding by the immigration requirements. In addition, policymakers can ameliorate the fiscal adversities of low-skilled immigrants by levying a surcharge for legal entry for the immigrant as well as directly revising upwards tax remittance by their employers. On this base, the cost of keeping the immigrant worker is internalized, while the additional economic gains translate to incentives for the citizens.


Anderson, S. (2011). Answering the Critics of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Web.

Franzblau, K. (1997). Immigration’s Impact on U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy. Web.

Hanson, G. (2009). The Economics and Policy of Illegal Immigration in the United States. Web.

Hanson, G. (2007). The Economic ogic of Illegal Immigration. Web.

Hanson, G. (2005a).Introduction. Web.

Hanson, G. (2005b). Reforming the US Immigration Policy. Web.

Hanson, G., Scheve, K., Slaughter, M., & Spilimbergo, A. (2001). Immigration and the U.S. Economy: Labor-Market Impacts, Illegal Entry, and Policy Choices. Web.

Rosenblum, M. (2012). Border Security: Immigration Enforcement Between Ports of Entry. Web.

Rosenblum, M., & Brick, K. (2011). US Immigration Policy and Mexican/Central American Migration Flows: Then and Now. Web.

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