Economists tend to agree that immigration is good for the economy: Immigrants create jobs and make U.S-born workers more prosperous. Opponents of this idea often cite the work of Harvard labor economist George Borjas to argue that, at the very least, low-skilled immigrants steal jobs that low-skilled Americans would normally do. Here’s The Atlantic’s David Frum fleshing out this critique:
"If you assume that all low-education workers are potential substitutes for each other—the 23-year-old recent arrival from Guatemala with the 53-year-old who proceeded from high school to the Army—then your model will show a less dramatic effect of immigration on wages. If, however, you assume that the 23-year-old Guatemalan is competing with 20- and 30-something native-born workers who lack diplomas, then your model will show a very big effect."
The core of this argument relies on the assumption that similarly educated native-born and immigrant workers of the same age don’t take on complementary roles in the job market as economists suggest—but rather eye the same jobs. But a new analysis of Census data from the Urban Institute finds evidence to the contrary.