It is often said that illegal immigrants steal jobs and depress wages. This statement is at least partially true: illegal immigrants do often work for less than their American counterparts, and this does result in some natives losing jobs to immigrant labor. However, the story doesn’t end there.
When an employer spends less for the same amount of labor—when, in other words, an employer pays lower wages for the same amount of work—that employer’s profits increase, other things being equal. When profits increase in an industry, new firms enter that industry. The establishment of these new businesses means two things: there are more buyers of labor and more sellers of product.
When there are more buyers of labor (more employers), there are not only more jobs, but there is more demand for labor, which drives the price of labor (wages) up. Wages continue to increase until employers can no longer make a profit, meaning until laborers are paid their real market worth.
When there are more sellers of a product, the price of that product decreases because of competition. This directly benefits the consumers of that product. When consumers pay less for the same product, they have more money available for other purposes. They may spend that money elsewhere or save and invest it, growing the economy in either case and providing employment.
Remember also that illegal immigrants are not just producers, but consumers as well. Their economic activity in this capacity also provides employment.
Therefore, while some Americans, even many Americans, suffer temporary displacement because of low-wage immigrant labor (and while such displacement is definitely a serious issue in tough economic times like these) the idea that illegal immigrants harm the economy in the long run could not be less true.
Long term, illegal immigrants do not steal jobs or depress wages. They do increase efficiency. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if getting more with less hurts the economy; only remember that if efficiency is bad, we should dig our ditches with spoons, build our dams like beavers, and destroy technology until we’re back to hunting and gathering–a lifestyle that ensures full employment for the native- and foreign-born.
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