New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Peter Nijkamp, Jacques Poot and Mediha Sahin
Chapter 11: Can a legalization programme for immigrants generate conflict among natives?
Over the last few years, we have witnessed a progressive rise of entry barriers to immigrants in developed countries. These measures are a response to a new wave of immigration that has provoked a wide-ranging debate on the economic effects of labour movement in the host countries. As a result, in the application of restrictive measures, many countries use entry quotas, which have contributed to the segmentation of the immigrant population, depending on whether or not they have valid papers. Many workers come into the country illegally1 in the hope of eventual legalization; some of them, however, fail to obtain the proper documentation and continue to work illegally for wages, and in conditions that are habitually below those of the market. Illegal immigration is increasingly common and has now reached a significant level. Coppel et al. (2001) have estimated that around 500 000 illegal immigrants enter Europe each year, and some 400 000 enter the USA, based on the estimates of Hoefer et al. (2006). Meanwhile, a policy of legalization programmes has been established in many countries. Although the last mass legalization in the USA was in 1986, other countries, like Spain and Italy, where immigration flows are a more recent phenomenon, use such amnesties more often, as noted by Epstein and Weiss (2001). The phenomenon of immigration has been analysed from a number of perspectives, some of which have focused exclusively on illegal immigration (Djajic, 1997; Gaytan-Fregoso and Lahiri, 2000).
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