Immigrant labor in the economic crisis

The Migration Policy Institute this month (January 2009) issued a study of immigrants and the U.S. economic crisis: how will immigrants fare? This study attempts to answer that question. In the executive summery, the authors opine that:
1. immigrant population growth has slowed, in large measure to no growth in the illegal population since 2006
2. There may be more Mexicans returning to their home country, but the evidence os only anecdotal.
3. Return migration flows appear to track more closely with the employment trends in the country of origin rather than in the host country. Example: Polish workers left Ireland due primarily to better work opportunities in Poland.
4. Legal immigration (roughly one million a year) is weakly tied to economic conditions because most of this flow is based on family ties, with applications often going back for years.
5. Most immigrant labor is vulnerable to employment downturns in the U.S. due to relative youth, low education status, and short tenure as workers.
6. “Deeply felt family obligations” such as commitments to remit earnings back home and lack or partial lack of access to the American safety net may cause many immigrants to do everything needed to keep their jobs.

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