Policy Documents

Restriction or Legalization? Measuring the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

Peter B. Dixon and Maureen T. Rimmer –
August 13, 2009

In this CATO Trade Policy Analysis, Peter B. Dixon and Maureen T. Rimmer contend that the latest estimates, 8.3 million workers in the United States are illegal immigrants. Proposed policy responses range from more restrictive border and workplace enforcement to legalization of workers who are already here and the admission of new workers through a temporary visa program. Policy choices made by Congress and the president could have a major economic impact on the welfare of U.S. households. This study uses the U.S. Applied General Equilibrium model that has been developed for the U.S. International Trade Commission and other U.S. government agencies to estimate the welfare impact of seven different scenarios, which include increased enforcement at the border and in the workplace, and several different legalization options, including a visa program that allows more low-skilled workers to enter the U.S. workforce legally.