The overriding impact of immigrants is to strengthen and enrich American culture, increase the total output of the economy, and raise the standard of living of American citizens. Immigrants are advantageous to the United States for several reasons: (1) Since they are willing to take a chance in a new land, they are self-selected on the basis on motivation, risk taking, work ethic, and other attributes beneficial to a nation. (2) They tend to come to the United States during their prime working years (the average age is 28), and they contribute to the workforce and make huge net contributions to old-age entitlement programs, primarily Social Security. (3) Immigrants tend to fill niches in the labor market where demand is highest relative to supply, complementing rather than directly competing with American workers. (4) Many immigrants arrive with extremely high skill levels, and virtually all, regardless of skill level, bring a strong desire to work. (5) Their children tend to reach high levels of achievement in American schools and in society at large.

Cato Experts

More on Immigration


I’m an Immigrant and a Reform Advocate. Obama’s Executive Actions Are a Disaster for the Cause.

By Ilya Shapiro. Washington Post. February 24, 2015.

E-Verify Does Little to Halt Illegal Immigration

By Alex Nowrasteh. The Press Enterprise. February 13, 2015.

Kintner Bill Makes Situation Worse

By Alex Nowrasteh. Journal Star. February 11, 2015.

Cato Studies

The Political Assimilation of Immigrants and Their Descendants

By Sam Wilson and Alex Nowrasteh. Economic Development Bulletin No. 23. February 24, 2015.

Clicking on Heaven’s Door: The Effect of Immigrant Legalization on Crime

By Paolo Pinotti. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 8. August 20, 2014.

The Fiscal Impact of Immigration

By Alex Nowrasteh. Working Paper No. 21. July 23, 2014.



Alex Nowrasteh. Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress. 2015.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: What Congress and the President Need to Do to Make It Work

Daniel Griswold. Albany Government Law Review. Vol. 3. No. 1. Winter 2009.

Higher Immigration, Lower Crime

Daniel Griswold. Commentary. December 2009.

Public Filings

Texas v. United States

By Peter Margulies, Josh Blackman, Ilya Shapiro, & Leif A. Olson. Legal Briefs. January 7, 2015.

Hearing on National Security Begins at Home Legislation

By Daniel Griswold. Testimony. August 31, 2011.

ICE Worksite Enforcement — Up to the Job?

By Daniel Griswold. Testimony. January 26, 2011.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Immigration and the Public Coffers

Policy Report. September/October 2014.

Is Immigration Good for America?

Policy Report. September/October 2013.

Immigration: Low-Skilled Workers Need Not Apply?

Daniel Kuehn. Regulation. Fall 2013.


A Cato Connects Program: Executive Action on Immigration

Featuring Alex Nowrasteh and Caleb O. Brown. November 21, 2014. Cato Connects.

Immigration Economics

Featuring Alex Nowrasteh. June 11, 2014. Book Forum.

State-Based Visas: A Federalist Approach to Immigration Reform

Featuring Alex Nowrasteh. March 25, 2014. Policy Forum.


Mexican Migration, Legalization, and Assimilation

By Daniel Griswold. October 5, 2005.

National Immigration Forum: Capitol Hill Panel Discussion on Mexican Immigration

By Daniel Griswold. February 19, 2003.

National Immigration Forum Annual Conference

By Daniel Griswold. February 1, 2002.