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U.S. Border Patrol (Eric Gay/AP)

President Trump and his allies in Congress are pushing to limit both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S., but more important than politics are powerful demographic and economic factors that will shrink future low-skill immigration to the U.S. in coming years, according to new research from economists at the University of California.

Bottom line: Between 2007 and 2014, the population of undocumented immigrants fell by 160,000 persons annually, and the authors argue that this is only partly the result of the Great Recession. Other factors driving the decline include:

  • The end of the Latin American baby boom — the average fertility rate in Latin American countries has fallen from more than 5 children per woman in 1970 to just more than 2 today.
  • Many Latin American economies have made significant gains in per capita income relative to the U.S., decreasing the economic benefit of emigrating.
"The policy dilemma facing the United States is thus not so much how to arrest massive increases in the supply of foreign labor, but rather how to prepare for a lower-immigration future," economists Gordon Hanson, Chen Liu, Craig McIntosh write in a white paper published Monday.

What it means for the U.S. economy: Economic research remains divided over the question of whether low-skilled immigration reduces wages for native low-skill U.S. workers. While restricting immigration would increase demand for native workers, it also may lead to less overall economic growth, which would in turn suppress wages at the bottom of the income scale. Meanwhile:

  • The continued slowdown in low-skill immigration, the authors argue, will lead to increased investment in automation technology, as businesses react to a tighter market for labor.
  • A decline in undocumented immigration will put pressure on U.S. entitlement programs, as these workers pay into Social Security and Medicare, but are not eligible for benefits.

Go deeper

29 mins ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.

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