Addressing unauthorized immigration is controversial. Countries have adopted a variety of legalization programs, ranging from temporary visa programs to naturalization. Research in the US focused on past amnesty programs finds improved labor market outcomes for newly legalized immigrants. Findings are more mixed for European countries. Studies suggest that regularization of undocumented immigrants can result in increased use of public benefits and reduced formal labor market participation. Despite widespread disagreement, legalization is widely used in practice.
Legalization allows undocumented immigrants greater mobility, access to health and social services, and equal protection under the law. It can increase tax revenues, as more immigrants pay taxes or pay more taxes when incomes rise. Comprehensive legislation can bring undocumented immigrants into the mainstream and deter new unauthorized immigration. Legalization should be phased in, beginning with temporary work and residence rights and moving to permanent residency for workers who meet requirements. Such balanced programs can boost net benefits to the receiving country while reducing security concerns.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at IZA World of Labor – Legalizing undocumented immigrants