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


Why So Many Refugees from Central America?

By Ted Galen Carpenter. National Interest (Online). June 30, 2018.

Donald Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’ Is Still a ‘Muslim Ban’ No Matter What the Supreme Court Ruled

By Ilya Somin. USA Today. June 26, 2018.

How Trump Can End the Family-Separation Mess and Still Win

By Alex Nowrasteh. New York Post. June 18, 2018.

Cato Studies

Understanding the Effects of Legalizing Undocumented Immigrants

By Joan Monras, Javier Vázquez-Grenno, and Ferran Elias. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 121. July 11, 2018.

Incarcerated Immigrants in 2016: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin

By Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh. Immigration Research and Policy Brief No. 7. June 4, 2018.

Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant and Native Use Rates and Benefit Levels for Means-Tested Welfare and Entitlement Programs

By Alex Nowrasteh and Robert Orr. Immigration Research and Policy Brief No. 6. May 10, 2018.


US Immigration Levels, Urban Housing Values, and their Implications for Capital Share

Ryan Murphy and Alex Nowrasteh. Economic Affairs. Vol. 37. No. 3. October 2017.

Does Mass Immigration Destroy Institutions? 1990s Israel As a Natural Experiment

Benjamin Powell and Alex Nowrasteh. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. June 27, 2017.

The Case for More Immigration

Alex Nowrasteh. Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. No. 42. Fall 2016.

Public Filings

Examining Warrantless Smartphone Searches at the Border

By Matthew Feeney. Testimony. July 11, 2018.

Trump v. Hawaii

By David Bier. Legal Briefs. March 23, 2018.

Statement for the Record - “Oversight of the United States Refugee Admissions Program”

By David Bier. Public Comments. October 25, 2017.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Immigration: Setting the Record Straight

Policy Report. January/February 2018.

Illegal Immigration Outcomes on the U.S. Southern Border

Bryan W. Roberts. Cato Journal. Fall 2017.

The Counterproductive Consequences of Border Enforcement

Douglas S. Massey. Cato Journal. Fall 2017.


Private Philanthropy and Immigrant Dreamers

Featuring Donald E. Graham and David Bier. June 13, 2018. Policy Forum.

Legal Immigration Reforms for the 21st Century

Featuring David Bier, Alex Nowrasteh, Daniel Griswold, Stuart Anderson, & Heather Curry Kartch. March 19, 2018. Capitol Hill Briefing.

State-Based Visas: A Federalism Approach to the Immigration Impasse

Featuring Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ken Buck (R-CO-4), David Bier, Alex Nowrasteh, & Peter Russo. May 3, 2017. Capitol Hill Briefing.


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.