Immigration of Foreign Workers: Labor Market Tests and Protections [August 27, 2010]   [open pdf - 334KB]

"Economic indicators confirm that the U.S. economy sunk into a recession in December 2007. Although some economic indicators suggest that growth has resumed, unemployment remains high and is projected to remain so for some time. Historically, international migration ebbs during economic crises; for example, immigration to the United States was at its lowest levels during the Great Depression. While preliminary statistical trends hint at a slowing of migration pressures, it remains unclear how the current economic recession will affect immigration. Addressing these contentious policy reforms against the backdrop of economic crisis sharpens the social and business cleavages and narrows the range of options. Some employers maintain that they continue to need the 'best and the brightest' workers, regardless of their country of birth, to remain competitive in a worldwide market and to keep their firms in the United States. While support for increasing employment-based immigration may be dampened by the high levels of unemployment, proponents argue that the ability to hire foreign workers is an essential ingredient for economic growth. Those opposing increases in foreign workers assert that such expansions--particularly during a period of high unemployment--would have a deleterious effect on salaries, compensation, and working conditions of U.S. workers. Others question whether the United States should continue to issue foreign worker visas (particularly temporary visas) during a recession and suggest that a moratorium on such visas might be prudent."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33977
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