Insights on Immigration and Development
Working Papers
Working paper # 1

Legal or Illegal? Preferences on Immigration

By Ángel Solano García
(May 2006)

The political debate about the regularization programs for undocumented migrants is nowadays a very controversial issue. The main goal of this paper is to explain why governments decide to grant amnesties to illegal immigrants as a part of their immigration policy. We propose a simple political competition model in which we first derive the voters’ preferences over a menu of regularization programs. Labour market conditions make skilled workers more pro-regularizations than unskilled workers. We find that in general the policy implemented at the political equilibrium is a partial amnesty program, which is what happens in the majority of the countries.

JEL Classification: J61, F22, D72
Keywords: Illegal immigration, regularization program, enforcement policy.


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