Last updated on: 8/7/2017 | Author:

Would Increasing Legal Immigration Reduce Illegal Immigration?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Pew Research Center, in a Sep. 28, 2015 report, “Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S., Driving Population Growth and Change through 2065,” available at, stated:

“Fifty years ago, the U.S. enacted a sweeping immigration law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, which replaced longstanding national origin quotas that favored Northern Europe with a new system allocating more visas to people from other countries around the world and giving increased priority to close relatives of U.S. residents.

Just prior to passage of the 1965 law, residents of only three countries—Ireland, Germany and the United Kingdom—were entitled to nearly 70% of the quota visas available to enter the U.S. Today, immigration to the U.S. is dominated by people born in Asia and Latin America, with immigrants from all of Europe accounting for only 10% of recent arrivals.”

Sep. 28, 2015

PRO (yes)


Phil Gingrey, MD, U.S. Representative (R-GA), in a May 8, 2007 congressional hearing testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law entitled “The Role of Family in Immigration,” stated:

“An often overlooked problem is our flawed system of legal immigration and how it may contribute to illegal immigration… it is one of the fundamental reasons why our businesses have problems sponsoring legal immigrants, why our federal caseworkers have problems with paperwork backlogs, and why our system has become so frustrating that individuals outside the United States would rather risk immigrating here illegally than wait forever in line… Depending on the country of application it could be 10 to 40 years or more before that visa is available under regular skill-based circumstances. As a result, a third of current legal immigrants… first came here as illegal aliens until their visa came up and they then went home to process the paperwork.”

May 8, 2007


National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), in a May 2006 study entitled “Legal Immigrants: Waiting Forever An Analysis of the Green Card Backlogs and Processing Delays Affecting Families, Skilled Professionals and U.S. Employers,” concluded:

“Why don’t people wait to immigrate legally to the United States? The answer is that many people do come here legally but processing delays and the family and employment-based immigration quotas legislated by Congress result in significant wait times – and much frustration – for potential immigrants and U.S. employers…. Many Americans do not realize the significant waiting times foreign visitors and business travelers experience to obtain a visa to enter the United States…

Those who ‘play by the rules’ are likely to wait many years to become a lawful permanent resident, whether they are sponsored by an employer or a family member. Waits for green cards (permanent residence) in the Skilled Workers and Professionals category have worsened considerably in the past few years, with the current wait for a newly sponsored high skill immigrant in this category exceeding 5 years…

Siblings of U.S. citizens can expect to wait 11 to 12 years from today before immigrating to America (22 years from the Philippines). Unmarried adult children can anticipate waiting 6 years, but 13 years if from Mexico and 14 years from the Philippines. A spouse or minor child of a legal resident (green card holder) from Mexico has a 7 year wait (a 5 year wait from other countries).”

May 2006


Michael R. Bloomberg, MBA, 108th Mayor of the City of New York, in a July 5, 2006 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary entitled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Examining the Need for a Guest Worker Program,” wrote:

“Unless we reduce the incentive to come here illegally, increasing our Border Patrol will have little impact on the number of people who enter illegally… [W]e must increase lawful opportunity for overseas workers. The economics are very simple: We need more workers than we have. That means we must increase the number of visas for overseas manual workers, who help provide the essential muscle and elbow grease we need to keep our economy running.”

July 5, 2006


Frank Sharry, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, in an Oct. 18, 2005 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary entitled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform II,” wrote:

“The keys to making the admissions system realistic, controlled, and workable are: …to provide enough visas for the expected future flow of workers and families; ‘Secure America’ accomplishes [this] by creating 400,000 worker visas a year and increasing family reunification visas so that the current illegal flow will be funneled into a legal one while being fair to those from around the world.”

Oct. 18, 2005


Tamar Jacoby, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in a July 26, 2005 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary entitled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” stated:

“The problem is that our immigration quotas provide so few opportunities for most of them to enter the country legally. …there are only 5,000 visas available for unskilled foreigners seeking year-round work. A Mexican without family in the U.S. who wants to do something other than farm work has virtually no legal way to enter the country. And even a man with family here must wait from 6 to 22 years for a visa, depending on what kind of relatives he has and what their legal status is.

This is the heart of the current crisis. We need the labor; foreign workers want the jobs. But there are no legal channels – so inevitably people come illegally. And it is this mismatch – the mismatch between the size of the flow and our quotas – that creates most of the problems we associate with immigration.”

July 26, 2005

CON (no)


Mark Krikorian, MA, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, in a Feb. 16, 1997 New York Post article entitled “The Link: Legal and Illegal Immigration,” wrote:

“[A] glaring omission guarantees that the illegal population will continue to grow: Congress and the administration emphasized that illegal immigration should be dealt with separately from legal immigration. Proponents of this approach argue that the two are distinct; that one constitutes lawless behavior, while the other is a lawful process. This view results from a fundamental misunderstanding of how immigration works. In fact, legal and illegal immigration are merely two parts of the same process. And there can be no successful control of illegal immigration without changes and reductions in its legal cousin. Why are they linked? Because the volume of legal immigration has risen together with illegal immigration. Legal immigration increased from 3.3 million in the 1960s to 7.3 million in the 1980s. At the same time, apprehensions of illegal immigrants by the Border Patrol increased from 1.6 million in the 1960s to 11.9 million in the 1980s. It is no coincidence that legal and illegal immigration have risen in tandem. The communities of legal immigrants formed since the mid-60s serve as incubators for illegal immigration by providing housing, jobs and entrée for their compatriots who haven’t yet managed to procure a green card.”

Feb. 16, 1997


James R. Edwards, Jr., PhD, Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute, in a Feb. 2006 Center for Immigration Studies essay entitled “Two Sides of the Same Coin, The Connection Between Legal and Illegal Immigration,” wrote:

“Reduce legal immigration. If illegal immigration is to be curbed or stopped, then legal immigration must decrease. The volume of aliens enticed to immigrate, under the law or against the law, is too great. The system is too open-ended, creating countless opportunities for fraud and abuse. Overall legal immigration quotas should be halved, at least. The statutory capitation is supposed to be about 700,000; about 300,000 a year more closely resembles America’s historical average.

About 200,000 to 300,000 immigrants a year must be set with a ‘hard’ cap; no one should be exempt from the cap. The maximum level should include refugees and asylees, as well as immigrants and their nuclear family members. Every fifth year should be a sabbatical year, in which no new immigrant visas are accepted or processed. Rather, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security should use this respite to ensure immigrant accountability and to ferret out fraud and abuse.”

Feb. 2006