The possible effects of a minimum-wage increase on illegal immigration are unclear, with some arguing the job market would dry up, sending immigrants elsewhere to look for work, and others saying the demand for undocumented workers would rise.
A 2013 study by Texas A&M researchers Jonathan Meer and Jeremy West found that a 10 percent increase in the real minimum wage is associated with a 0.53 percentage-point decrease in the net job growth rate, the American Action Forum reported, adding that a nationwide minimum wage
of $10 would cost an estimated 2.3 million new jobs per year.
"Immigrants are more likely to be lower-skilled workers, exactly the types of workers most likely to be harmed by a higher minimum wage," Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, told the Washington Examiner
. "In fact, conservative Ron Unz sponsored a ballot initiative in California last year to raise the minimum wage for the explicit purpose of forcing illegal immigrants out of the market."
Urgent: Do You Think the Minimum Wage Should Be Raised?
Some lawmakers, however, continue to tout minimum wage increase bills. In Wisconsin, Senate candidate Russ Feingold, a Democrat, wants it raised to $15 hourly, The Huffington Post reported
His opponent in the race, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson,
opposes a federal minimum wage hike, noting its effect on immigration.
"The only area that I would agree with minimum wages is in immigration reform, for the guest worker program," Johnson told The Huffington Post. "I'm 100 percent supportive of a minimum wage, kind of industry specific, maybe regionally specific, for guest workers, so that we're not creating incentives for employers to bring in immigrants to lower the price of labor."
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has also pushed for a $15 minimum wage bill in July, The Huffington Post said.
Urgent: Do You Support Immigration Reform?
Foreign Policy magazine said a minimum wage hike
may increase illegal immigration by spurring employers to seek undocumented workers to avoid paying higher wages.
“But the solution would be simple: Get the undocumented workers into the formal labor force,” Foregin Policy magazine said. “Doing this would give the minimum wage the effects it was supposed to have. But it’s worth asking whether, by greatly expanding the formal labor force, the combination of a higher minimum wage and immigration reform would also increase the rolls of the unemployed.
“Fortunately, that seems unlikely.”
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