How does Immigration Impact the U.S. Economy?

One of Donald Trump's main platforms this election is that immigration has a negative impact on American native born jobs and wages. Is that true? Does research back up that claim?

A couple of weeks ago the National Academy of Sciences released a 509-page report titled, "The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration." Dr. Flores shares some of the findings in this report, and he says according to data immigration has essentially a NET ZERO effect on native born American's jobs and wages.

Do you agree with Dr Flores assessment?

Dr. Flores is giving a presentation Monday night at MSUM at 7pm. You get the details at the end of the interview.


(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Chris Berg: Good evening, welcome to Point of View, I’m Chris Berg. Thank you for joining us on this Friday night. Former interim director of the NDGOP Matt Becker says the GOP needs to dump Trump. Speaking of Donald Trump, one of his main messages is build the wall, makes Mexico pay for it and put Americans back to work. Tonight we're going to look at the economic impact on the U.S. economy. MSUM economics professor, Oscar Flores is joining us tonight.

Let's start here, obviously Donald Trump is gaining a lot of traction across the rust belt. So recently a 509 page report was released. But a national academy of sciences talking about the economic and fiscal consequences of immigration. Let’s start with numbers here. This, by the way, comes from the Center for Immigration Studies. They are not pro-immigration, I’ll put it that way. You tell me if these numbers are accurate. In 2000, so the last 16 years, we have 12.8 million people less in the labor force, between 16 to 65, last in the last 16 years, we've got 14.3 million. These are native born people, native born Americans that are without jobs that are not in the labor immigration impacting how many native born Americans are out of work and is it lowering their wages?

Oscar Flores: Well, the answer is yes and no.

CB: Oh, no! [ laughter ]

OF: Like a good economics professor, I will say on the one hand and on the other hand. So we know that immigration is -- immigrants tend to be low-skill workers. And so, yes, you have increased supply of workers and there will tend to be a decrease in wages. And some of the employment that native workers have will go to the immigrant workers. However, not everyone does the same thing. You can imagine, for instance, in building a house. You have plumbers, electricians, roofers, framers and so on. And so the roofer and the framer and electrician don't compete for the same job, they instead complement each other. So immigrants can also be compliments of some if you imagine that immigrants come and they have low skills and work in a nursing home, as many do in Fargo-Moorhead, then it would be easier to have more beds for elderly people and that will allow the company to hire more accountants and more the complimentary of more workers get benefited by some workers will tend to be hurt, like high school drop outs, maybe people with a high school degree, or workers tend to be benefit and tend to have more skills. But I think the great majority it's not going to have an impact on their wages.

CB: So you look at the big picture, he's going to do some historical analysis. Let’s look at the big picture in the last 20, 30 years. Positive impact on our wages here in America or negative impact?

OF: Close to zero.

CB: Really? We've had kind of a hockey stick impact of people coming into our country.

OF: Yes. And as I said, for those who have a low skill job, who compete with low-skilled immigrants, and most immigrants are low-skilled workers, for them, yes, there seems to be a -- forever 1% increase in immigration there will be about .4 percent increase in wages. For other workers, I would maintain your salary has not been affected -- imagine your salary has not been affected by immigration, because there's not many immigrants competing for your job and at the same time not many immigrants that complement your job. There would be some benefited by immigration.

CB: Let me ask you in this way. You see what's happening in our election where Bernie Sanders, ran as Democrat, then Donald Trump, never been a politician before, talking about building a wall, two outsiders creating a revolution. Is part of that, because when I look at what's happening with immigration, Democrats are pro-immigration because they wants to bring people in because they want immigration reform, amnesty and get a bunch of voters, republicans are saying, yeah, we like this PPP thing, it gives us labor and helps increase profits. Any accuracy to what I’m saying there?

OF: I would imagine that democrats will report -- who will do exactly what you said. I don't know their minds that well. And nor can I read many republican's minds.

CB: Some people are going to be watching this, he's from Mexico, used to be Republican, assuming he's a Democrat, he's going to make this thing sound like immigration is great for everybody, you say what to that?

OF: No, immigration is not great for some workers. And immigration in terms of labor and in terms of wages will affect most -- pretty much close to zero. There are other issues we don't know much about. For instance, how do we measure the welfare improvement on American’s lives, because there are immigrants who do work at nursing homes and take care of elderly parents.

CB: We've got to leave it there, sir, love to have you back. Monday night at MSUM, kicks off at 7:00 p.m. Economic impact of immigration on American workers. Stick around, when we come back, gentleman caused quite a fire this week. He wrote a letter that says dump Trump and hear what he says about Hillary Clinton’s single greatest achievement in her 25 to 30 years of public always, head to our website,