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[Excerpt] Samuel Gompers (1925), founder of the American Federation of Labor and, historically speaking, America's most influential labor leader, wrote in his autobiography, "Immigration is, in its fundamental aspects, a labor problem" (p. 125). In most contemporary debates over immigration policy, this basic truism is forgotten. For no matter how immigrants enter the United States—as legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, border commuters, or nonimmigrant workers on temporary visas—most have to work to support themselves, as do usually their spouses and, eventually, their children as well. Hence, immigration policies always have labor market consequences regardless of the motivation for their enactment. The scale of immigration flows; the human capital characteristics that immigrants bring with them and the geographical distribution of the foreign-born population always have economic implications for the nation's labor force.


Suggested Citation
Briggs, V. M., Jr. (2008). Immigration policy: The nations most fundamental labor law [Electronic version]. Perspectives in Business, 5(1), 5-9.
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Copyright by St. Edward’s University.