This story in the New York Times is about a study just released by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington that shows immigration over the last seven years was the highest for any seven-year period in the nation’s history.

The story points out that the study, which focuses on the costs of immigration, was criticized by immigration scholars because it only takes into account the public costs of immigrants without taking into account the contributions those migrants make by paying taxes and taking lower-paid jobs.

A recent study commissioned by County Supervisor Bill Horn fell victim to the same criticisms, as our own Rob Davis pointed out in this story.

And prior to the report coming out, I had written this story looking at similar issues.

Here’s some of the criticism of the Washington study, from the Times article:

“This is a one-eyed portrait,” said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California who has studied immigrants’ use of public services. “It is a profile of immigrants’ dependency without any profile of their contributions.”

Mr. Myers said his research shows that within a decade, new immigrants in California moved up quickly to steadier jobs with more benefits, and the rates of uninsured immigrants dropped sharply.

Sound familiar? That’s because Davis had this quote in his story:

“It’s misleading,” said Gordon Hanson, director of the Center on Pacific Economies at University of California, San Diego. “No economist wants to know just what the impact on the revenue side is. You want to know what the net impact is.”

And I this is from my story:

Jim Gerber, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University, said he doesn’t think a study to work out the impact of undocumented workers on county services can be done.

“There’s things you just basically can’t count, and there’s things you can basically just half-count,” Gerber said. “The notion that there’s anything approximating a consensus estimate of what the real costs and benefits are is ludicrous.”

And there’s more criticism in the Times piece, this time from San Diego:

Wayne Cornelius, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied Mexican immigration for decades, called Mr. Camarota’s conclusions about immigrants’ use of public services “misleading.”

The census data, Mr. Cornelius said, does not allow concise estimates of use of public services by illegal immigrants.

Mr. Cornelius said his field research in San Diego County had shown that illegal immigrants under-used the health care system, given their health needs.

“They are less likely to have health insurance, but they are also less likely to seek medical attention,” Mr. Cornelius said.

It’s worth reading the national story, then Davis’ story.


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