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Immigration policy is supplied endogenously through a political process that weighs the impacts of immigration on factor owners, together with other interests, in determining policy outcomes. The relative significance of constituent interests and legislator ideology in shaping policy is tested by identifying the correlates of congressional voting on immigration legislation. Conservative lawmakers are found to generally support stricter immigration controls. Legislators representing border states and urban areas favor looser restrictions, possibly reflecting the political influence of recent immigrants. There is evidence that immigration reform is a normal good and that substitutability between native and immigrant labor promotes tighter immigration restrictions.


Presented in a Contemporary Economic Policy session titled “Economic Growth in Developing Economies” on July 2, 2006 at the 81st annual conference of Western Economic Association International (WEAI) in San Diego, California. We thank Sasha Lugovskyy for assistance with data collection. The authors bear full responsibility for any errors and ask not to be quoted without permission.

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