Economics of Immigration

Immigration is today’s hot topic.  While the dreamers and DACA seem to be at the center of this discussion in the USA, people from many middle-eastern countries seem to be at the heart of it in Europe. I believe that there are principles that are applicable to both.

While I’m a third-generation immigrant with many friends and relatives that are immigrants, both legal and illegal, I will be taking my own feeling out of this and examining the economics of immigration.

tony aguirre

My grandpa Tony (FISH) Aguirre

DACA as an Incentive Creator:

DACA (Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals) was put into place in June of 2012 by the Presidential Executive Order of Barack Obama. This program was intended to give some children whose parents immigrated illegally a sense of security through temporary amnesty.  (More about the program.)  The program created incentives to those who met the criteria to be in the program. It also created the incentive not to pursue citizenship by other means.  One unintended incentive created was more people who would consider illegal immigration.  This type of program lowers the risk of illegal behavior.  A basic economic principal is lower prices lead to a higher demand.  You can see that principal applied to immigration, the lower the risk, the higher the incidence of illegal immigration.

European Counterparts:

The value of multiculturalism has taken front and center in some European countries.  I will be using Sweden as an example, because it is the most striking. There is a government video displayed here, asking the people of Sweden to consider adapting to the culture of immigrants they have welcomed into their land.  What Islam could not do in the middle ages through war they are quickly accomplishing in some European cities by playing to the needs of the virtue signalers.  No one can point out the elephant on the room because they will be labeled as unaccepting or non-virtuous.

muslims europe.jpg

DACA as an Entitlement Program:

The problem with entitlement programs are not in the programs themselves but the incentives that they can create.  Many entitlement programs subsidize various things like rent or food leading to the end consumer not paying the full price as she or he would in a free market.  This may lead to higher demand. But by far the biggest obstacle is that many times there is no incentive to get off of the program.

What are entitlement programs?

  1. a government program that guarantees certain benefits to a particular group or segment of the population.

While many people would be uncomfortable saying DACA is an entitlement program, some of those under the program certainly have acted like it, when President Trump talks of rescinding it.


At the same time, one could argue that the incentives it creates are to stay in it indefinitely.

A Major Problem with Immigration and Multiculturalism:

Multiculturalism is something that has and is highly celebrated.  It does have potential downsides though, which we will be examining.

What is multiculturalism?

  1. the presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.

There is nothing as sexy as a city square that is vibrant with restaurants from different cultures and people from other countries interacting in a positive way.  There can be a dark side though, and that is when there are major worldview differences.  Cultures are based on worldviews and traditions, which can be far apart from other’s values. When cultures collide, it is vital that there is a common set of values or the collision will be anything other than peaceful. Western values are sprouted from the Judeo-Christian worldview.  Values that are contrary to that can be extremely harmful and can result in conflict.

What can we do?  As Christ followers we are called to love the people regardless of their actions. At the same time, we do not want to create an environment that rewards illegal or dangerous behavior.  The risk from the illegal act should be high enough that the reward isn’t worthy of any attempt.  A guiding principle that we should follow is that if you know someone who is in this position, love them while encouraging them to obey the law.   If you have the ability to help them do so, then do it.

Ben Balke

Purdue Global University


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