Negative Effects of Immigration in the U.S. Economy

Written by neal litherland
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Negative Effects of Immigration in the U.S. Economy
U.S. immigrants may have some negative effects on the economy. ("we are all immigrants" sign image by Christopher Martin from

An ongoing concern lingers that immigrants in the United States are actually hurting, rather than helping, the economy. Overall, this isn't true, and immigrant labour is a general benefit to the U.S. economy, according to the W.P. Carey School. However, that isn't to say there aren't negative effects of immigration on the U.S. economy at the same time.

Technological Costs

Unskilled immigrants fill a large need in many of the manufacturing sectors of the U.S. economy. However, because there is a large pool of cheap, unskilled immigrant labour to draw on, it could lead employers to not adopt new technology. If you have a labour intensive process, but you have the necessary labour to produce your product at a fairly low cost, then why bother making technological advancements to replace a system that already works? This isn't necessarily what always happens, but it is an economic concern.

Illegal Costs

Illegal immigration is a major concern to the economy. Since illegal immigrants try to stay under the radar, it means they're often paid in cash. This means that, not only are they in America illegally, they're also not paying taxes. Additionally, social services spend a lot of funding on illegal immigrants, especially hospitals because illegals won't go to a hospital until it's an emergency, and even then they usually can't pay for care. Prison costs and prosecution costs are also a blow to the economic ability of the federal government.


As with any trend or phenomenon, taking a single year's snapshot of the fiscal impact of immigrants doesn't do the entire question justice. According to the White House in 2007, evaluating one year's impact from immigrant workers (particularly households headed by immigrants) may reveal a misleading, negative trend on the economy due to immigrants. However, in the long run, immigrant labour has a positive effect--with skilled immigrant labour and unskilled.

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