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San Diego, California, US November 19-21, 1994

Migration Dialogue

Immigration and Integration Issues in the 1990s:

Focus on the United States

November 19-21, 1994

Catamaran Resort Hotel

3999 Mission Boulevard

San Diego, CA 92109

Friday, November 18, 1994 Arrival Day.

7:00 PM Walk to informal dinner at the Rusty Pelican (4325 Ocean Blvd., phone 274-3474), a local oceanfront restaurant. The restaurant is four blocks or 300 meters from the hotel. We will meet in the lobby at 7 pm by the Migration Dialogue sign; you will also receive a map to the restaurant when you check in--please join the group late if you wish.


Saturday, November 19

7-9AM Continental Breakfast served in the hotel's second floor foyer next to the Boardroom, where our sessions will be held.

9-10:45 AM Immigration Patterns and Policies in Industrial Countries

Speakers: Michael Teitelbaum, Sloan Foundation and Vice Chair, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and Jonas Widgren, Director, International Center for Migration Policy. Moderator: Philip Martin, Professor, University of California, Davis.

Discussion Questions

ï Immigration policy involves three fundamental questions: how many immigrants should be admitted, from where should they come (or who should have priority to enter), and in what status should immigrants enter. How are industrial countries answering these questions? Whose interests tend to be most important in making and enforcing entry rules? What time dimensions enter into immigration debates?

ï What are current immigration flows into industrial countries? How can we compare or rank countries in their openness to immigrants? Is a society's openness to immigrants in any manner analogous to its openness to foreign goods?

ï Is there an upper limit on the annual influx of foreigners or on the foreign share of the population (Canada adds almost one percent to its population annually via immigration; the U.S. about 0.4 of one percent; in Switzerland, foreigners are 18 percent of the population; in Germany, nine percent; in the U.S., eight percent). Are such comparisons of immigration flows and stocks misleading because each country has a different understanding of the term "immigrant." In the US, for example, most of the foreigners have a right to become citizens, while most foreigners living in Switzerland are not expected to become citizens. How are foreigners/immigrants integrated into a new society?

ï What influences the "absorptive capacity" of a nation? Gross numbers? History? Demography and Economics? Geography? Regional concentration/dispersal of immigrants?

ï What determines the range of views on how easy it will be to integrate particular groups of immigrants? Is "absorptive capacity" affected by the number and type of immigrants arriving, socio-economic conditions when they arrive, or the speed with which their arrival changes the ethnic/racial/religious composition of the population?

ï Should the annual inflow of immigrants be set by an annual ceiling or "quota?" Should the intake of immigrants vary with domestic socioeconomic conditions, such as the unemployment rate, or with international events, such as the number of refugees and asylees seeking entry? How can annual limits be enforced?

ï How large is the contribution of immigration to population and labor force growth? In a country with a declining native population, such as Germany, should immigration be used as a policy to prevent the population from shrinking?

10:45-11AM Coffee Break

11AM-12:30 PM Small Group Discussions

Each group will have a discussion leader and rapporteur.

12:30-1:30PM Lunch

1:30-3:00 PM Why and How Do Industrial Democracies Regulate Unskilled Immigration?

Speakers: Philip Martin, Professor, University of California, Davis and Thomas Straubhaar, Professor, Universität der Bundeswehr Hamburg. Moderator: Elizabeth Midgley, President, Working English.

Discussion Questions

ï The focus on this session is whether, why, and how the influx of unskilled workers into industrial societies should be regulated. Illegal workers can be converted into legal workers or immigrants via temporary worker programs and amnesties, so we want to discuss--from economic, political, and social points of view--whether, why, and how an industrial country should attempt to control entries.

ï Presentations will make reference to three points. First, to what extent are the benefits of unskilled migrant workers in an industrial society such as the U.S. immediate and concrete in the form of higher profits for some employers, and concentrated in the hands of a relatively few people? To what extent are any costs associated with unskilled immigration delayed, diffused across society, and difficult to measure, since they include integration issues?

ï Second, why is there so much controversy over the economic effects of migrant workers in industrial democracies? Theory would suggest that the presence of migrant workers should raise profits and depress wages, increase total employment and unemployment, and slow the search for labor-saving change. Why do researchers have such a hard time finding any significant such effects? There will be a discussion of examples of the effects of immigrants in particular sectors, such as nursing, construction, agriculture, hotels and restaurants, and garments.

ï Third, what would happen to these sectors and to the economy as a whole without immigrant labor? How should non-specialists think about the trade-offs involved in front-door legal immigration, side-door guestworker migration, and back door illegal immigration?

3:00-3:15 PM Coffee Break

3:15-5 PM Small Group Discussions

7:00 PM Reception

7:30-9 PM Welcome Dinner: Frank Loy, President, German Marshall Fund of the United States

9 or 10PM Cruise

After dinner, there is an optional cruise around Mission Bay on the Bahia Bell. The tickets, which will be in your welcome packet, may be used on either Friday or Saturday night. There is a lounge and music on the boat. The boat leaves hourly in the evening from the dock behind the Catamaran. The boat stops at the Bahia Hotel and the Princess Resort Hotel where you can get off and reboard later, if you wish.


Sunday, November 20

7-9AM Continental Breakfast served in second floor foyer next to the Boardroom.

9 -10:45 AM Can Trade be a Substitute for Migration? The Case of NAFTA

Speakers: Sidney Weintraub, University of Texas-Austin; George Tapinos, Institut díetudes politiques, Paris; and Sharon Russell, MIT and the World Bank. Moderator: Jorge Bustamante, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

ï The U.S. is the world's major country of immigration, Mexico is the world's major country of emigration, and most Mexican immigrants historically arrived as illegal or irregular aliens who were later legalized. How have demand-pull, supply-push, and network factors evolved between Mexico and the U.S.? Which factors are most important in explaining current migration flows? What is the prospect that the North American Free Trade Agreement will break these links, and over what time periods are NAFTA's effects expected to be visible?

ï We will be traveling to Mexico to visit some of the "maquiladoras"--foreign-owned assembly plants--that employ about 1 in 5 Mexican manufacturing workers. To what extent does trade in the labor-intensive goods assembled in these plants substitute for migration? If these factories employ mostly young women, do they also draw young men to the border area who later cross the border illegally? How are patterns of Mexican migration to the United States changing after NAFTA.

10:45-11:00PM Coffee Break

11:00-12:15 PM Small Group Discussions

12:15-2:30 PM Sunday Brunch and Free Time. You will receive tickets for the brunch during the morning session.

2:30PM Leave for Border.

ïSunday night is usually the busiest night on the border, as Monday through Friday workers return, although November is a light month for apprehensions. We will drive to the border in several vans, and spend two to three hours with the Border Patrol observing illegal entry, processing, return, and re-apprehension.

7:00 PM Dinner with Border Patrol Representatives at El Torrito Restaurant.

8:30PM Return to hotel or nighttime viewing of border area.

Participants have the option of returning to the border to watch apprehensions through new nightscopes or returning to the hotel.


Monday, November 21

6:30-7:45AM Continental Breakfast served in second floor foyer next to the Boardroom.

7:45 AM Field Trip to Border and Mexico (American citizens need an ID; non-US citizens need their passport and I-94 form)

ïWe will drive to the border to observe activities there in daylight, and then proceed to visit several to the 2,000 foreign-investor owned maquiladoras that employ 500,000 mostly young Mexican women. You will have an opportunity to observe working conditions, and to ask about the effects of encouraging Mexicans to move north on "stepping stone" migration to the United States. We will return through the Otay Mesa checkpoint, and receive a briefing from the INS on the use of false documents to enter the United States.

3:00 PM Return to hotel.

4-5 PM Panel discussion: What are Realistic Immigration Control Options?

Panel: Patrick Weil, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris; Wayne Cornelius, Director, Center for US-Mexican Studies; and David Martin, Professor of Law, University of Virginia. Moderator: Michael Teitelbaum.

6:30 PM Dinner

7:30 PM Continued panel discussion

9:30 PM Farewells


Tuesday, November 22


Report on the San Diego Seminar, November 19-21, 1994

November 30, 1994

Immigration Patterns and Policies 1

Why Regulate Unskilled Immigration ? 2

Can Trade be a Substitute for Migration? 4

Practical Options for Managing Illegal Immigration 5

Prop 187 6

The purpose of the seminar was to explore four major questions:

ïwhat is the gap between immigration policy goals and outcomes in the US and Western Europe?

ïwhy should industrial countries try to regulate unskilled immigration?

ïcan trade and investment arrangements such as NAFTA reduce emigration pressures?

ï what are practical options to deal with unskilled immigration pressures? These questions were framed by Europeans and Americans, discussed in a general session, and then in small groups. In addition, these issues were discussed during the field trips.

Immigration Patterns and Policies

The opening session noted that there have been enormous and unanticipated changes in the US and around the world over the past three decades. These changes have given the US far more immigrants, especially from Asia, and neither the increased number of immigrants, nor the rise in Asian immigration, was anticipated.

The US made four major changes in its immigration policies during the past three decades: in 1965, 1980, 1986, and in 1990. In each case, the unanticipated consequences have been as significant as the expected effects of these immigration reforms.

Many Americans do not believe governmental promises that efforts to control illegal immigration will soon succeed. This national failure to manage illegal immigration has produced an anti-immigrant reaction, especially in California. Managing migration has become the number one issue in the nation's largest state.

European nations are getting immigrants, but they have not yet accepted the responsibility to deal with immigration prospectively and realistically. For example, Europeans still avoid discussing the three fundamental immigration questions of how many, from where, and in what status immigrants should arrive.

The number of immigrants arriving in Europe has been racheting upward despite tough talk, new laws, and even departure bonuses. Europe's major political parties have primarily been reactive, trying to do enough to blunt the appeal of anti-immigrant parties so that immigration does not dislodge the parties that have run Europe for the past five decades.

Most experts believe that European governments must become forward-looking, taking steps to prevent unwanted migration, and developing a GATT-analog General Agreement on Migration Policies (GAMP) to promote the coordination of efforts to manage migration.

It was generally agreed that pressures to cross national borders will rise rather than fall in the years ahead, but it was emphasized that rising migration pressure or potential does not necessarily mean rising migration. In other words, there was not a consensus that the only choice open to the receiving countries is whether to accept migrants through front, side, or back doors--indeed, most participants believed that migration management was both possible and should be given higher priority by governments.

It was also agreed that the fear of the stranger is real and can easily be exploited. The recent civil rights/individual rights revolution resulted in an elite consensus not to play the "immigration card" for political purposes, but California's Proposition 187 may be a harbinger of change.

It is also clear that ideas that would have been scoffed at even five years ago get a respectable hearing today. These include using military intervention to prevent disruptive migration, as in Haiti, taking at least symbolically tough steps to reduce unwanted migration, as exemplified by Proposition 187 in California , police checks in France, and the German law that requires public employees to report suspected illegal aliens.

There was a general concern that the growing gap between immigration policy goals and outcomes could lead to larger problems. For example, it was noted that Germany and the Scandinavian countries believe that they can prevent illegal immigration, so they hew to legal and illegal categories, with the result that some public employees feel forced to become immigration agents. France and the US, on the other hand, are more likely to accept their inability to eliminate illegal immigration, leading to incomplete amnesties and the development of schemes through which some rights are granted to illegal aliens.

Second, it was emphasized that voters at the bottom of the labor market could express their frustration at the gap between immigration goals and outcomes by voting for anti-immigrant parties or taking direct action against foreigners. Third, it was emphasized that, in a global economy linked by freer trade and capital flows, relations between nations can be disrupted by immigration disputes.

Why Regulate Unskilled Immigration ?

Most of the immigrants arriving in industrial nations are unskilled, meaning that they have less than the median level of education of native-born adults. Since immigration pressures are rising, and immigration control is getting more difficult, this session asked a simple question--why bother with control, or how much resources and energy should be devoted to controlling unskilled/illegal immigration?

It was emphasized that this question has been avoided regularly by immigration commissions in the US. Their normal justification for doing more to curb illegal immigration is that, in a nation of laws, illegal immigration is wrong and, if it persists, antipathy toward illegal immigrants might lead to a less open front door to legal immigrants.

Immigrants in industrial countries are a small part of the worldwide labor force and a marginal part of industrial country workforces, so that any effects they have will be marginal for both developing and industrial nations. It was also noted that economic theory finds that it is not optimal to completely stop unwanted activities such as pollution and illegal immigration because the costs of achieving a zero level outweigh the benefits.

But perhaps the most interesting observation was that, in Europe, it seems to be easier for blue-collar workers to push society toward a "too restrictive" immigration policy, while in the US employers and ethnic groups have been able to organize themselves to get a "too open" policy toward unskilled/illegal immigration.

Immigration is neither good nor bad; it produces economic and other tradeoffs. Three economic tradeoffs seem especially important in evaluating unskilled immigration. First, unskilled immigrants on balance hurt unskilled native workers through wage depression, displacement, and changing patterns of hiring and training. However, these changes affect less than 20 percent of all native workers, and many occur in a fashion that is not visible to in statistical studies of immigrant impacts. The fact that these impacts are not easy to measure does not mean that they do not exist.

Second, the availability of immigrant workers affects the evolution or trajectory of those sectors of the economy where immigrants are concentrated. In the US economy, there are only three occupations with 1 million or more workers in which immigrants are a majority of the workforce--farmworkers (2.5 million), janitors (2 million), and household help (1 million). These sectors are also not well studied in comparison to other economic sectors, so it is not always easy to see what would happen without immigrants. However, in the case of agriculture, the termination of the bracero program in 1964 spurred a cost-reducing series of innovations that made the US a world leader in processed tomato products.

Third, the immigrants arriving in the US today, if arrayed by the best single predictor of earnings, years of education, have an hourglass or barbell shape. This means that current immigration patterns are increasing economic inequality.

The discussion emphasized that immigrants have many economic effects, sometimes improving the position of some native workers, as when unskilled immigrants in the fields create or preserve jobs for truck drivers. It was also noted that the trajectory of an industry is not shaped just by immigration. In US transportation industries, for example, the major changes in the labor market are traceable to de-regulation.

The discussion also emphasized that foreigners willing to work for low wages can affect domestic workers directly via immigration, or indirectly through trade and investment flows.

The discussion concluded with a consensus that, if unskilled/illegal immigration is to be controlled in the 1990s, countries need have flexible policies that adapt to changing patterns of movement. Economic differences between industrial and developing countries are widening, increasing incentives to enter industrial countries enough so that e.g., Chinese nationals pay $30,000 to be smuggled into the US to fill unskilled jobs.

Can Trade be a Substitute for Migration?

This question was answered simply: yes, and free trade and investment are the only instruments guaranteed to eventually reduce migration pressures. But there is a short-run migration hump, meaning that the disruptions and dislocations associated with deregulating and opening an economy increase migratory pressure. If there are established migratory links, the same polices that reduce migration in the long run can increase migration in the short run.

Labor migration is a big business. The remittances sent to countries of origin by the 20 to 25 million foreign workers in industrial countries are in the $40 to $50 billion range, as each worker remits perhaps $2000 annually. If the industrial countries were to succeed in stopping migration, or removing the foreign workers already there, countries of origin might lose a major source of foreign exchange.

Economic growth is the ultimate answer for economically-motivated migration, but economic growth does not have to equalize wages to stop migration. Analyses and experience suggest that once economic differences are reduced to 4 or 5 to 1, and there is confidence that wages will continue to increase in the country of origin, migration pressures fall sharply.

The world community has not yet figured out how to deal with economically-motivated migration in international organizations and agreements. Most countries are avowedly not destinations for immigrants, making them more likely to cooperate to reduce immigration than to establish the rules under which it should occur. However, regional trade agreements, which tend to be more comprehensive than global agreements such as the GATT, increasingly deal with migration.

Mexico is the ninth most populous country in the world, with about 90 million people and a labor force of about 30 million. The country grew rapidly with an import substitution policy during the 1950s and 1960s, and thought that it could continue this policy when oil prices rose in the 1970s. Debt rose, oil prices fell, and in 1982 the country was in crisis.

Mexico changed its economic policies in the mid-1980s, embracing policies that aimed to attract foreign investment and to create jobs in export-oriented industries. One of the fastest-growing sectors of the Mexican economy have been maquiladoras, the 2000 factories in the border areas that employ 500,000 Mexican workers to turn imported components into products that are mostly exported to the US.

NAFTA plus "correct" economic polices in Mexico promise faster economic growth in the 1990s. But the need for faster economic growth is larger than even freer trade and investment can provide--Mexico has 1 million new workforce entrants annually, so that even creating 500,000 "real jobs" each year is not sufficient for new entrants plus those displaced from inefficient industries such as agriculture. Furthermore, Mexico has a very unequal distribution of income, so that the benefits of fast growth are not automatically shared in a manner that leaves especially poor people in rural Mexico satisfied with their lot.

Mexican researchers expect illegal Mexican immigration, estimated at 800,000 to 2 million entries per year today, to decline significantly after NAFTA plus Mexico's current polices have been in effect for at least 10 years--50 percent of the Mexican estimate of 800,000 illegal entries were apprehended at least once by the US Border Patrol. However, the next 10 years promise very contentious debates over persisting illegal immigration.

There is a fundamental difference in the definition of the migration problem. Mexicans see migration as an economic issue. They note that it is not the bottom of the Mexican workforce that migrates to the US, and that the wages earned by unauthorized immigrants in the US are just as legitimate as the profits earned by their US employers. The Mexican perspective is that if the US really wanted to stop illegal immigration, it would crack down on US employers, since their demand for Mexican workers is what motivates Mexicans to cross the border.

The US perspective, in the Mexicans' view, is that unauthorized Mexican workers are criminals. This prevents, they say, useful negotiations toward a bilateral migration agreement.

Europeans tend to favor aid rather than trade to reduce migration pressures, in part because many of the emigration countries would, with freer trade, export agricultural products to Europe. In other words, agricultural protections are in part responsible for urbanization and migration pressures from Morocco to Turkey.

In the case of Morocco, freer trade would make the country an agricultural exporter. But freer trade alone would cause problems, one of which is that Morocco now gets one-fourth of its governmental revenue from import tariffs.

The discussion emphasized that there are significant differences in US-Mexican relations along the 2000 mile border. Even though northern Mexico is richer than other parts of Mexico, San Diego is one of the richer areas of the US, while the TX border towns are among the poorest in the US. Border Patrol operations that reduce apprehensions sharply are popular in both areas.

Practical Options for Managing Illegal Immigration

There were very different practical options discussed. One approach is to review the various control options tried, to emphasize the flaws in each, and to conclude that the best option is to manage inevitable migration. For example, fortifying the border is expensive, and its long-run effectiveness is not yet clear. Eliminating social services for unauthorized aliens may not have much of a deterrent effect on migrants seeking jobs, and may complicate the provision of services to so-called mixed families that include members with a variety of legal statuses.

The other approach is to acknowledge that no control measure is a magic bullet cure, but that enforcement measures can have effects on migration at the margin, and can send symbolic messages to the public that something is being done. The US now enforces on targets of opportunity--such as Prop 187's attempt to detect those who seek public services--and enforces indiscriminately--as when all Haitian boat people are returned without screening.

A strategy of detection and detention/deportation was urged. Once an illegal alien is detected, there must be, it was argued, a procedure to determine quickly who is not eligible to remain, and then those persons must be removed quickly in order to avoid the development of equity stakes that lead to exceptions(the US deported only 38,000 aliens in 1993).

Island nations such as the UK tend to rely on border controls, and not on internal controls such as employer sanctions. Nations with many borders and mass tourism industries such as France tend to place most of their enforcement emphasis on interior controls. Each country is debating how to engage in interior controls that are effective while respecting human rights. What may seem overly intrusive in one country is considered normal in another, such as France's random ID checks on the streets, versus the opposition to a national work permit in the US. These differences in what are acceptable controls help to explain why international coordination in immigration control efforts may be so difficult to achieve.

It was also emphasized that the willingness to embrace immigration controls depends on how much of a problem such immigration is perceived to be. Many of those who recoil at e.g., national work permits believe that illegal immigration is not a serious problem, and are thus not willing to support what they see as an "extreme" solution.

Prop 187

The seminar concluded with a discussion of Prop 187, the California ballot initiative that was approved by a 59 to 41 percent vote on November 8, 1994. Prop 187 can be modified only with a 2/3 vote of the California Legislature or by another initiative.

Prop. 187 has five major sections. First, it bars illegal aliens from the state's public education systems from kindergarten to university, and requires public schools to begin verifying the legal status of both students (on January 1, 1995) and their parents (on January 1, 1996). Second, all providers of publicly-paid, non-emergency health care services must verify the legal status of persons seeking services in order to be reimbursed.

Third, Prop. 187 requires that all persons seeking cash assistance and other benefits verify their legal status before receiving benefits. Fourth, all service providers are required to report suspected illegal aliens to California's Attorney General and to the INS, and police must determine the legal status of persons arrested. Fifth, the making and use of false documents is now a state felony.

Some of these provisions restate current law, such as barring illegal aliens from cash assistance programs, but add a California-administered verification procedure. Other provisions conflict with current law, such as those barring illegal alien children from schools, and these conflicts will have to be resolved in the courts before they are implemented.

The discussion generally decried the denial of education and health care services to persons needing them. There was little disagreement on the goal of doing more to reduce illegal immigration, and it was suggested that better border and interior enforcement, as well as persuading Mexico to cooperate in preventing illegal exits, would be preferable to the Prop 187 approach. However, it was noted that, at least in the case of public education, the major argument against denying access is that the children will stay, which implicitly says that the US cannot control illegal immigration.

The seminar ended on a consensus note that immigration issues are likely to become more rather than less important, and that issues such as Prop 187 will push the issue ever higher on national and international agendas.