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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Policy Paper 55: U.S. Immigration Policy: Unilateral and Cooperative Responses to Undocumented Migration

  • Author(s): Rosenblum, Marc R.
  • et al.

This paper addresses the problem of undocumented immigration to the United States from Mexico, and current and proposed policies designed to control these undocumented flows. I summarize current U.S. policy toward undocumented Mexican immigration, which has been an expensive failure. I then take up three competing policy proposals: one pending in the U.S. Senate (S.1814 and S.1815) to expand the H-2A guest-worker program; one to construct a strict enforcement regime; and one based on linking U.S.–Mexican free trade to a free flow of labor. For each alternative, I predict likely outcomes and distributional consequences for seven types of actors (U.S. workers, U.S. consumers, U.S. employers, other U.S. citizens, undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants, and other Mexicans). I conclude that a binational approach to immigration control (a North American Common Market) is the most promising option, and I discuss its political feasibility.

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