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What are the consequences of an amnesty for undocumented immigrants?

  • Pia M. Orrenius
  • Madeline Zavodny

The United States has not created a major amnesty program that would allow undocumented immigrants to legalize their status since 1986. As the number of undocumented immigrants has surged in recent decades, momentum for a new amnesty program has gained ground. This paper discusses the current position of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. economy and the likely economic consequences of an amnesty program. The results of the 1986 amnesty indicate several lessons for designing an amnesty plan that would improve the lives of the currently undocumented, minimize adverse effects on other groups, and stem the continuing tide of undocumented immigrants.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2004-10.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2004-10
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  1. Karlson, Stephen H. & Katz, Eliakim, 2003. "A positive theory of immigration amnesties," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 231-239, February.
  2. Cynthia Bansak & Steven Raphael, 2001. "Immigration reform and the earnings of Latino workers: Do employer sanctions cause discrimination?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 275-295, January.
  3. Antonio Spilimbergo & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1337-1357, December.
  4. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2005. "Self-selection among undocumented immigrants from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 215-240, October.
  5. Douglas Massey & Audrey Singer, 1995. "New Estimates of Undocumented Mexican Migration and the Probability of Apprehension," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 203-213, May.
  6. Davila, Alberto & Pagan, Jose A, 1997. "The Effect of Selective INS Monitoring Strategies on the Industrial Employment Choice and Earnings of Recent Immigrants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 138-50, January.
  7. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond Robertson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2002. "Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers From Illegal Immigration?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 73-92, February.
  8. Frank Bean & Rodolfo Corona & Rodolfo Tuiran & Karen Woodrow-Lafield & Jennifer Hook, 2001. "Circular, invisible, and ambiguous migrants: Components of difference in estimates of the number of unauthorized Mexican migrants in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 411-422, August.
  9. Pia Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2003. "Do amnesty programs reduce undocumented immigration? Evidence from Irca," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 437-450, August.
  10. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
  11. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  12. Chiswick, Barry R, 1988. "Illegal Immigration and Immigration Control," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 101-15, Summer.
  13. B. Lowell & Jay Teachman & Zhongren Jing, 1995. "Unintended consequences of Immigration Reform: Discrimination and hispanic employment," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 617-628, November.
  14. C. Bansak & S. Raphael, . "Immigration Reform and the Earnings of Latino Workers: Do Employer Sanctions Cause Discrimination?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1181-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  15. Katharine Donato & Jorge Durand & Douglas Massey, 1992. "Stemming the tide? Assessing the deterrent effects of the immigration reform and control act," Demography, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 139-157, May.
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