A Texas judge’s decision on Monday to block the executive actions on immigration announced by the Obama administration last year has cast the issue of illegal immigration back into the national spotlight.
While the debate is ostensibly a fight over the limits of executive power pitting President Barack Obama and other champions of reform against Republicans in Congress and statehouses across the country, many opponents of immigration reform consistently appeal to economic arguments to explain why the government should continue to crack down on undocumented immigrants living in the country.
Rick Santorum, a conservative politician who ran in the GOP presidential primary in 2012, said last month that laws passed in the 1920s to restrict immigration from Asia and Southern Europe “did what was best for the American worker.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has likewise framed the immigration debate as a struggle between American-born and foreign-born workers.
In a memo to Republican members of Congress posted to his office’s website, Sessions railed against a failed proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, writing that “for American citizens, the legislation offered nothing except lower wages, higher unemployment, and a heavier tax burden.”
Despite how often these ideas surface in the ongoing immigration debate, many of them don’t hold up to scrutiny. The consensus among economists is that immigration -- both legal and illegal -- has an overall positive effect on the U.S. economy.
Here’s five talking points about the economics of illegal immigration you should view with a healthy dose of suspicion: