Essays On Illegal Immigration In Texas

Immigration has emerged as a top issue in the presidential campaign. The timing is odd since immigration into the United States has slowed sharply.

Issuance of green cards, or permanent resident visas, to new arrivals has been largely flat since 2008, but dipped in 2013 to a six-year low. Illegal immigration is near record lows, with migrant apprehensions along the Southwest border at levels last seen in the 1970s. Temporary work-based visas have risen slightly in recent years but remain below their 2007 peak. Plotting visas and migrant apprehensions as a share of the nation’s working-age population, reinforces the point that immigration is slowing in both absolute and relative terms.   

More on Immigration from the Bush Institute

Receive exclusive access to America’s Advantage: A Handbook on Immigration and Economic Growth

A lack of legislative action on immigration reform, rising border and interior enforcement of immigration laws, and the slow-growing U.S. economy have combined to stem the inflow of immigrant workers. The Mexican case is particularly striking, with demographers suggesting net inflows from Mexico were negative over the five-year period following the Great Recession. Economic stability in Mexico, and slower population growth, has dulled the “push factors” that generated mass emigration for four decades.

Against this backdrop of slowing immigration, it’s surprising that presidential politics are heating up around this issue.

Why we need immigration

Immigration fuels the economy. When immigrants enter the labor force, they increase the productive capacity of the economy and raise GDP. Their incomes rise, but so do those of natives. It’s a phenomenon dubbed the “immigration surplus,” and while a small share of additional GDP accrues to natives — typically 0.2 to 0.4 percent — it still amounts to $36 to $72 billion per year.

In addition to the immigration surplus, immigrants grease the wheels of the labor market by flowing into industries and areas where there is a relative need for workers — where bottlenecks or shortages might otherwise damp growth.

When immigrants enter the labor force, they increase the productive capacity of the economy and raise GDP. Their incomes rise, but so do those of natives. It’s a phenomenon dubbed the “immigration surplus.”

Immigrants are more likely to move than natives, and by relieving these bottlenecks to expansion, immigrants increase the speed limit of the economy. Growth accelerates as slack falls, a desirable scenario that follows from the improved allocation of resources in the economy.

There are many examples — nationally and regionally — of immigrants moving to where the jobs are. During and after World War II, Mexican immigrants were instrumental in alleviating shortages arising from the war effort. During the oil boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was record migration to Texas. In the 1990s, it was the fast-growing South and Mountain West states that received immigrants, many for the first time.

In terms of occupations, immigrants flowed into high-tech jobs during the Internet boom and construction jobs during the 2000s housing boom.

Immigrants grease the wheels of the labor market by flowing into industries and areas where there is a relative need for workers — where bottlenecks or shortages might otherwise damp growth.


In 2013, the George W. Bush Institute honored America's immigrant heritage with an official immigration naturalization ceremony and a half-day event.

Watch the ceremony, featuring remarks by President George W. Bush

In addition, the rise in high-skilled immigration, a pronounced trend since the 1990s, has been linked to innovation, specifically to higher patenting rates among immigrants. Interestingly, greater innovation among immigrants appears to boost it among natives, too. Immigrants innovate more than natives because they are concentrated in STEM occupations where there is lots of R&D and entrepreneurial activity

Forty-four percent of medical scientists are foreign born, for example, as are 42 percent of computer software developers. Immigrant workers are also overrepresented among college professors, engineers, mathematicians, nurses, doctors and dentists, to name a few.

If immigration makes the economy larger, more efficient and productive, what’s the problem? Why do we, as a nation, strictly limit immigration?

Yes, there are downsides

Immigration changes factor prices — it lowers the wages of competing workers, while raising the return to capital and the wages of complementary workers. In other words, the immigration surplus does not accrue equally to everyone. It goes primarily to the owners of capital, which includes business and land-owners and investors.

Complementary workers also benefit. The demand for these workers rises with more immigration. They may be construction supervisors, translators, pharmaceutical reps, or immigration lawyers. And consumers benefit from the lower prices of the goods and services that immigrants produce. But competing workers’ wages fall, at least in the initial transition period as the economy adjusts to the new labor inflow.

Research suggests that previous immigrants suffer more of the adverse wage effects than do natives. Prior immigrants are more like current immigrants.

Research also suggests any negative wage effects are concentrated among low-skilled and not high-skilled workers. Perhaps that is because high-skilled U.S.-born workers are complementary to immigrants to a greater extent than native low-skilled workers, who hold jobs that require less education and fewer language skills.

Overall, we are talking about a plus


Last year, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the George W. Bush Institute partnered to release this book containing an in-depth analysis of the correlation between immigration and economic growth.

America's Advantage: A Handbook on Immigration and Economic Growth

Immigration is thus a positive but also disruptive change. There are lots of historical examples of positive yet disruptive economic change. The Industrial Revolution displaced millions of farm workers and resulted in the great urban migrations and the birth of mega-cities to which we now ascribe all kinds of positive attributes, including creativity and innovation and higher wages. 

No great change is without some short-term cost. What is costly in the long-term is preventing market forces from funneling resources to their best use. The adjustment of wages and prices to the changing demand and supply in the economy are the levers of capitalism that direct resources to their best allocation.

Immigration has net benefits. The fact that it has some costs is not a reason to bar it, but rather to manage it. Mechanisms can be found to benefit from immigration’s gains while making up for the losses of some workers. International trade has similar effects, and workers adversely affected by trade are eligible for federal programs such as Trade Adjustment Assistance.

Immigration has net benefits. The fact that it has some costs is not a reason to bar it, but rather to manage it.

International migration is not much different than domestic migration, at least not in terms of economics. We Texans often celebrate Californians and others who move to Texas for the abundant jobs, lower house prices and lesser tax burden. In Texas, we have depended on this inflow of labor from other states to grow as fast as we have — about twice as fast as the nation since 1990. The state has benefited from the migration as have those who moved here.

Would wages have been higher without the inflow of labor? Perhaps temporarily. But wage inflation and skill shortages would have choked off investment and firms would have expanded elsewhere, in places where they could readily find more competitively priced resources.

Immigration is a net positive, even for those who don’t move, but the gains are not distributed equally. The next step for policymakers is to structure immigration reform to take advantage of immigration’s many benefits while mitigating the costs. 

Immigration is a net positive, even for those who don’t move, but the gains are not distributed equally. The next step for policymakers is to structure immigration reform to take advantage of immigration’s many benefits while mitigating the costs. 
The Bush Insttitue hosted a naturalization ceremony honoring 20 new citizens from 12 countries, July 10, 2013. (Grant Miller / George W. Bush Presidential Center)
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Pia OrreniusVice President and Senior Economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and Fellow at the John Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University, Orrenius also is a member of the Bush Institute’s Economic Growth Initiative’s Advisory CounRead bio

Texas Political Culture and Immigration essay part 2

Texas Political Culture and Immigration essay part 1

Texas immigration policies, especially in regard to undocumented immigrants are strict but not as strict as they are in Arizona, for example. Nevertheless, the impact of the traditionalistic and individualistic political culture on immigration policies is obvious. At this point, it is possible to refer to some legislative bills which were and were not introduced in Texas in 2008 and 2009. The 2008 bill 81 (R) -HB 233 that aimed at the creation of an advisory committee to establish and recommend qualifications for certain health care translators and interpreters passed (Payan, 2013). The 2009 bill 81(R) – HB 266 that regulated the provision of benefits and services to, and the verification of the employment status of, immigrants and to enforcing laws relating to immigrants; providing civil and criminal penalties did not pass (Payan, 2013). Similarly, the 2009 bill 81 (R) – HB 4482 that required a lawful presence in the United States for receipt of state educational benefits and to the determination of resident status of students by public institutions of higher education as well as the 2009 bill 81 (R) – SB 1677 that regulated immigration assistance services and provided civil and criminal penalties did not pass too (Payan, 2013). Also, it is worth mentioning the 81 (R) – SB 2568 concerning the prohibition against the knowing employment of persons not lawfully present in the United States and the suspension of licenses held by certain employers for the knowing employment of those persons, that also did not pass (Payan, 2013) that gives implications that the position of undocumented immigrant employees in Texas may be under a threat since the failure of introducing the aforementioned bill limits opportunity of employment. The aforementioned bills that failed and passed reveal quite strict attitude of legislators and politicians of Texas to the illegal immigration. They do not want to expand rights and opportunities of undocumented immigrants to obtain wider access to education and health care services. In addition, legislators attempt to raise barriers for the access of undocumented immigrants to Texas labor market. At any rate, the bill 81 (R) – SB 2568 that did not pass could have enhance employment opportunities of undocumented immigrants

            Today, Texas faces a profound immigration crisis, which ultimate manifestation is the immigrant children crises as illegal immigrant children flood into the state. Illegal immigrant children “have surrendered themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on the belief they will be allowed to stay in the country, and officials have struggled to house the children amid a staggering backlog of immigration cases” (Cohen, et al., 2014, 12). In such a way, in face of the emerging flow of undocumented immigrant children, Texas turns out to confront the problem on its own because the federal government has failed to prevent and resolve the crisis, while the state was traditionally oriented on the development of its immigration policies using the federal legislation as the legal framework with a strong use of the Constitutional power of the state to develop its own legislation and enforce its immigration policies.

            Moreover, undocumented immigrants have the limited access to legal services as human rights activists, who have recently attended one of three operating detention centers in Texas, point out. They “raised concerns that families aren’t being given necessary access to legal services and that conditions are beginning to take a toll on detained children” (Sakuma, 2014, 3). This is another evidence of the inclination of Texas to the traditionalistic and individualistic political culture because Texans view undocumented immigrants as violators of the existing legal norms and, more important, as a threat to the existing social order because they misbalance the state labor market, education and health care system, requiring wider support which is provided for them from the part of the federal government, especially in the field of education and health care services.

Instead, the local authorities attempt to raise barriers on the way of immigrant to Texas, although those barriers are not as strict as is the case of Arizona, for example. The Senator Comyn in a collaboration with the Representative Cuellar have a plan to introduce legislation Thursday to repeal the 2008 deportation hearing law, but the introduction of the law may limit consistently the access of illegal immigrant children to the US and, therefore, Texas, on the pretext of protections for children who come to the United States because of concerns about drug or sex trafficking (Cohen, et al., 2014). This proposition implies the tightening immigrant legislation that will prevent undocumented immigrant children of the wider legal protection of their rights.

            At the same time, the development of Texas political culture raises the problem of conflict between different trends or political cultures. In this regard, the policy concerning immigration reveals the full extent to which political cultures in Texas come into clashes.         Moreover, the position of political leaders of Texas is likely to become even stricter in regard to immigration policies, as “Patrick—and like-minded new state GOP leaders like Senator Ted Cruz—are steering Texas Republicans sharply rightward on immigration issues” (Brownstein, 2014, 2). Moreover, “Patrick ousted incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a GOP primary this year, mostly behind promises to toughen enforcement at the Mexican border and to repeal the policy of providing in-state public college tuition to young people brought to the U.S. illegally—a plan that the outgoing Gov. Perry signed and still defends” (Brownstein, 2014, 2). In fact, such a situation in the political life of Texas and preferences of local voters show that politicians standing on the traditionalistic and individualistic ground are still very popular in Texas and can gain the wide support due to the prevalence of the traditionalistic and individualistic culture in Texas.

            At the same time, as Texan politicians enter the federal politics they extrapolate their political culture on their policies at the federal level.  However, at the federal level, political culture is more diverse and the opposition from the part of other political cultures, which remain under-represented in Texas, is very strong. As a result, politicians from Texas are often perceived as highly conservative in the federal politics. At the same time, Texas politicians do not accept political cultures different from their own that leads to conflicts and tension between politicians at the federal level.


Thus, I have shown Texas is a state with a strong traditionalistic and individualistic political culture. The state provides extensive support for the conservative Republican Party and the Presidential election returns within the last thirty years have proved this fact clearly. In addition, current immigration policies and legal initiatives also show that the state government’s  and legislators attempts to protect the traditional lifestyle and individual initiative of the state population and raise barriers on the way to the illegal immigration by preventing the access of undocumented immigrants to the state, to the local labor market and limiting their opportunities to access education and health care services in Texas. In such a way, Texas political culture is different from some of other states in the US. At the same time, Texas political culture has a strong impact on the federal politics because Texas politicians represent the conservative part of the US society and personify traditional American values. As a result, they often come into clashes with more liberal politicians from other states, when they operate at the federal level, where they attempt to implement the same principles of political culture they used to implement in Texas.

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