Migrant Workers in Western Europe and the United States by Jonathan Power

By Jonathan Power

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In a later paper the problem of illegal migration is dealt with in more detail. It argues for heavy legal sanctions against employers of illegal workers and against "manpower traffickers". At the same time, it is emphasized that illegal workers should be entitled to rights similar to legally employed immigrants: accident benefits, for example, and the right to their full earnings before they are deported. The ILO in June 1975 passed a convention on "migrants in abusive conditions" which would commit member nations to "identify" and "suppress" "clandestine movements of migrants and illegal employment of migrants" in their territory.

This kind of correlative study has not been carried out in the United States, but there is no reason to think the situation is significantly different there. Immigrants are now so rooted in the Western economy that it is almost impossible to conceive of a situation short of war or economic catastrophe that would lower their number to any great extent. All the 10 I n other words, the use of lower productivity marginal workers will lower aggregate average productivity. Product per capita for native workers, however, will m e —implying an increase in the social welfare of the host country.

France is not the only country where there is a trade in clandestine immigrants, or where there is a gross exploitation by employers of illegal migrant workers, though the African illegal migration into France is, perhaps, the most graphic case. The countries which use immigrant labour in Europe all have a minority of illegal migrants. In the USA, they constitute a sizeable majority—perhaps two-thirds —of the migrant workforce. They are found wherever there are restrictive or discriminatory immigration practices, and employers willing to hire clandestine workers.

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