Hanson: Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States
For reviews of this literature, see Douglas S. Massey et al. (1994) and Thomas J. Espenshade (1995).
The current U.S. immigration quota system wasestablished by the Hart–Cellar Act of 1965 and amendedby the Immigration Act of 1990. The 1990 law set a flexi-ble cap for U.S. legal admissions at 675,000 individuals of which 480,000 are to be family-based, 140,000 are to beemployment-based, and 55,000 are to be “diversity immi-grants.” Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are not subjectto immigration quotas.
discussion of international migration in theUnited States or Mexico ends up confrontingthe issue of illegality either explicitly orimplicitly.Much of the initial research on unautho-rized labor flows was done by nonecono-mists.
The principal themes of this body of work resemble those in the economics liter-ature on internal migration in developingcountries (see Robert E. B. Lucas 1997;Hillel Rapoport and Frédéric Docquierforthcoming). Early waves of illegal migra-tion from Mexico appear to have originatedin rural areas of the country (Wayne A.Cornelius 1992; Jorge Durand, Massey, andRené Zenteno 2001), involved householdsfinancing the migration of one or moremembers in return for remittances from themigrants (Durand, Emilio A. Parrado, andMassey 1996; Durand et al. 1996), anddepended on family and community net- works that helped migrants enter and findemployment in the United States (Massey etal. 1994; Massey and Kristin E. Espinosa1997).Yet,internalmigrationandillegalinterna-tionalmigrationdifferinimportantrespects. Whilepolicybarriersthatrestrictwithin-countryregionallaborflowsarerare,coun-triesactivelyregulatetheinflowoflaborfromabroad.TheUnitedStatesdeterminestheleveloflegalimmigrationthroughquo-tasonentryvisas,whichchangeinfrequent-lyovertime.
For surveys of this literature, see James P. Smith andBarry Edmonston (1998) and George J. Borjas (1999a,1999b) and for recent work in the area see Borjas (2003)and David Card (2005). For analysis of these issues in thecontext of Mexican immigration, see Smith (2003),Stephen J. Trejo (2003), Francise D. Blau and LawrenceM. Kahn (forthcoming), Borjas and Lawrence F. Katz(forthcoming), Card and Ethan Lewis (forthcoming), andBrian Duncan and Trejo (forthcoming). There is a smallerliterature on the consequences of emigration for Mexico.See Prachi Mishra (forthcoming) and Gordon H. Hanson(forthcoming).
Exceptions include Timothy J. Hatton and Jeffrey G. Williamson (2004) and Anna Maria Mayda (2005), whoexamine the correlates of international migration flows. Inresearch on internal migration, there is considerable workon the incentive to migrate. See Michael J. Greenwood(1997) and Lucas (1997) for reviews of the literature.
howprospectivemigrantsrespondtothesepolicies.There is a large literature on U.S. immi-gration, which tends to focus on the labor-market consequences of immigrant inflowsand the economic performance of immi-grants.
This body of work examines, amongother questions, whether immigrationreduces wages for U.S. native workers; whether immigrants make relatively greateruse of means-tested entitlement programs;and whether earnings, education, fertility, orother outcomes for immigrants converge tonative levels over time.LargelytakenforgrantedintheU.S.liter-atureis
foreignresidentsmigratetotheUnitedStates.OneobviousreasonisthatU.S.realwagesfarexceedthoseinmany othercountries.Largewagedifferentials,coupledwithbindingandslowlychangingquotasonU.S.legalimmigration,createqueuestoentertheUnitedStates.Givenextendeddelaysinclearingsuchqueues,annualvariationintheleveloflegalimmi-grationappearstobemoreorlessinsensitivetocontemporaneousannualfluctuationsinU.S.orforeignecon-omies.Perhapsasaresult,thequantityofliteratureonthecon-sequencesofU.S.legalimmigrationvastly exceedsthatonitscauses.
With illegal immigration, the determi-nants of migrant flows and the high-frequency variation of these flows have