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The US can learn from Colombia about giving rights to undocumented immigrants | Brookings

Institutions & Governance News | Mar 01 2021
People wearing protective face masks line up to cross the border between Colombia and Venezuela at Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

In an article for Brooking’s Up Front,Dany Bahar highlights the findings from a recent working paper coauthored with CEGA affiliate Sandra Roso and Ana Maria Ibañez. Their study found that giving Venezuelan migrants to Colombia legal working status had little effect on the work outcomes for Colombians. Bahar suggests the implications of these findings for US immigration policy:

“Colombia is about to embark on one of the largest-ever humanitarian gestures in modern history: Providing a 10-year, renewable, regular migratory status to over 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees living within its borders, about 3.3 percent of its population—a figure that is remarkably similar to the share of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The United States is smart to follow suit by following President Biden’s plan to provide an eight-year path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

The most common argument against such a move is that allowing immigrant workers to transition to the formal labor market (because it should be obvious to all by now that most immigrants already work informally) would hurt labor outcomes of Americans. But significant evidence proves that this is not the case, including my recent work with Ana Maria Ibañez and Sandra Rozo that shows an earlier wave of regularization in Colombia barely had any effect on the labor indicators of Colombians. And for those who remain worried about immigration and crime, evidence shows that providing immigrants a regular status drastically reduces their incidence of committing crimes, which is typically very low –lower than for natives—to begin with.”

Source: The US can learn a lot from Colombia about giving rights to undocumented immigrants


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