Immigrants and the Current Economic Crisis: Research Evidence, Policy Challenges, and Implications
This report seeks to address how current and prospective immigrants will fare, and how they will respond to the severe economic crisis that began in December 2007. It does so by carefully analyzing a nuanced combination of pertinent data, America’s immigration history, the motivations and likely behavior of immigrants, and the outcomes of prior recessions and their effects on immigration trends. This analysis, along with a degree of educated speculation, forms the basis for understanding and predicting the potential impact of the economic crisis on legal and illegal immigration flows to and from the United States, non-economic factors that may contribute to changes in post-recession immigration flows, and the likely effects of an economic downturn on the labor market performance of immigrants.
The report’s findings show both slower growth in the stock of the foreign-born population in the United States and slightly slowing inflows of immigrants. Authors predict that: different types of migration flows will likely respond differently to changing labor market conditions, with lawful permanent resident (LPR) and humanitarian flows less responsive to business-cycle fluctuations than temporary and unauthorized flows; immigrants—especially those who are younger and less-educated—will likely suffer disproportionately during economic downturns; and public policy may exacerbate immigrants’ vulnerability by barring recent LPRs and unauthorized immigrants from federal public assistance programs. Authors note, however, that significant increases in return migration is unlikely due to the global nature of the recession and the mobility of immigrant workers within the United States.