Journal Article

Labor Shortages and U.S. Immigration Reform: Promises and Perils of an Independent Commission

Published 1 January 2011 / By Martin Ruhs, Philip Martin

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Introduction

Comprehensive U.S. immigration reform proposals have three major elements: improved border and workplace controls, dealing with the 11 million unauthorized foreigners in the U.S., and managing ‘‘future flows’’ of foreign workers requested by U.S. employers. Improved controls and dealing with unauthorized foreigners were discussed extensively in the U.S. Senate in 2006 and 2007. Future flows were not. This article reviews the decisions governments face when employers request migrant workers, Britain’s independent Migration Advisory Committee, and the promises and perils of a similar U.S. commission to manage labor migration. We conclude that a U.S. commission could help to clarify the trade-offs involved in migrant labor policy, but cannot replace the need for inherently political choices between competing policy objectives.

Ruhs, M. and Martin, P. (2011) 'Labor Shortages and U.S. Immigration Reform: Promises and Perils of an Independent Commission', International Migration Review, 45(1): 174–187