In the contemporary policy discourse of developed countries, the issues pertaining to immigration and immigrants have assumed utmost importance. People for what so ever reason, do migrate from one country to another in search of livelihoods, security and peace. But in the process they also become instrumental in causing conflicts in the host country in many ways. The host countries while drawing benefits from these desperate workers also have to face the consequences of these conflicts centered around immigrants.
In the present paper, we shall make an attempt to highlight some of these issues both from the perspective of the policy makers in the source and destination countries. Immigrants and Conflicts with the Labor Market It is beyond any doubt that immigration increases labor supply of labor. Therefore, it has an inherent tendency to push wages down and make jobs more scarce than before. Since the immigrants are ready to take up jobs at much lower wages, the job competition between the natives and the immigrants is fierce at the bottom of the labour market especially in the low-skilled segments of the economy (Camarota, 1998, 3).
Camarota 1998 have made attempts to assess the effects of immigrant laborers on the wages of the native wage earners. From the empirical analysis, strong effects of immigrants have been observed on the wages of the low skilled occupations. Itis estimated that a one percent increase in the composition of immigrants would reduce the wages of the native workers by 0. 8 percent. In USA, since at the lower skilled segment of the labour market, the immigrants occupy around 15 percent of the labour force, this would reduce the the wages of the average native by approximately 12 percent, or $1,915 a year (Camarota, 1998, 3).
Immigrant laborers get in conflict with the domestic workers. But among the immigrant workers, there are concerns too. Those who are legal immigrants, enjoy larger sets of benefits including social security and higher wages and the illegal immigrants have to manage with lower returns given their vulnerability. However, from the perspective of the employer, given the higher cost associated with the employment of legal immigrants, it is more lucrative to hire illegal immigrants than the legal ones.
In some instance, as per the personal accounts of workers, in places where the immigration rules are strict, employers and other vested interest groups in partnership with the local immigration officials are also able to instigate raids in order to do away with the payments they have to make to the illegal immigrants. These are potential causes of conflicts among the native laborers, legal and illegal immigrants (Anonymous, 218-223). Factors causing Immigration and the Sources
Availability of cheap labor is the most significant criteria that provides benefits to the host country that allows immigrants to come, work and eventually settle in a country, both by legal and illegal means. However, the issues related to the issue of cross border migration is very complex and is much beyond the labor cost considerations. There are also other larger issues associated with immigration. There always had been an influx of immigrants from developing and underdeveloped regions to the developed regions.
From the experience of US immigration, it has been observed that during two decades one in the beginning of the last century and the other at the end, the incidence of immigration was highest in the USA. There are specific factors contributing to such high incidence of immigration during these two decades. Hatton and Williamson have ascribe five different factors as consistent and three factors as temporary causes of immigration to USA.
The consistent causes are, (a) difference in real wages between the source country and the United States; (b) population growth rate in the source country 20 or 30 years before; (c) the degree of industrialization and urbanization in the spurce country; (d) the volume of previous immigrants from that source country or region; and (e) economic and political conditions in the United States’. The temporary factors that worked as immediate reasons for instigating temporary immigration in the past were ‘potato famine, the movement from sail to steam, and the presence or absence of immigration restrictions'(1998, pp. 32-58).