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Illegal Migration and US Immigration Reform: A Conceptual Framework

Michael P. Todaro and Lydia Maruszko
Population and Development Review
Vol. 13, No. 1 (Mar., 1987), pp. 101-114
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972122
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972122
Page Count: 14
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Illegal Migration and US Immigration Reform: A Conceptual Framework
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Abstract

This paper presents a conceptual framework for analyzing international illegal migration from developing countries. The model postulates that the decision to migrate is some function of the expected income differential between the home and destination countries, where this differential comprises not only home and destination wage and unemployment rates, but also two new variables unique to decisionmaking by illegal migrants--the probability of capture and deportation and the degree of wage discrimination against illegal workers. The model implies that illegal migration responds to a variety of economic and noneconomic variables that are either negligible or nonexistent in an analysis of internal domestic and legal international migration. Through a simulation that reflects the current environment in which illegal migration from Mexico into the United States takes place, the model is used to evaluate the impact of the 1986 Simpson--Rodino Immigration Reform and Control Act designed to curb the inflow of illegal migrants through the imposition of employer penalties and increased border apprehension. The simulation reveals some major weaknesses of the legislation.

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