The Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB) presents the IEB Report 3/20 entitled “Legalization of undocumented immigrants: what do we know?” which draws on academic papers to systematize empirical evidence on the socioeconomic impacts of immigrant amnesties on the host economies.
The report, coordinated by IEB researcher and professor of the Universitat de Barcelona Javier Vázquez-Grenno, addresses an issue that exists in many developed countries which play host a high number of immigrants with irregular status. The United States has the largest number of immigrants in this situation. However, in recent years, Europe has also shown very high levels. The magnitude of this phenomenon has led governments to implement various policies to tackle the problem, as circumstances require. Nevertheless, the root of the issue has not been addressed: that is, the management of migratory flows. Migration policies have generated controversy in the political arena and in public opinion. Legalizations or amnesties of unauthorized immigrants have prompted the greatest debate in terms of far-reaching policies.
The three contributions that make up the IEB Report 3/20 address the issue from different perspectives. Francesco Fasani (Queen Mary – University of London) provides a general description of unauthorized immigration on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the perception of public opinion on this situation. The second contribution, by Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes (University of California), starts by setting out a dilemma. On one hand is the laudable main goal of these policies (which is to recognize these individuals as part of a society); on the other is a question of justice: as some immigrants benefit after having “broken the rules” while others wait until the rules allow them to immigrate. In the third contribution, Joan Monras (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), together with Javier Vázquez Grenno, gather evidence on the socioeconomic implication of amnesties for the Spanish economy. Based on studies of the latest and largest immigrant amnesty implemented in Spain in 2005, the evidence is also favorable in most areas, despite the fact that this policy would have had distributional effects among different types of workers.