Market Forces vs. Discrimination: What We Learn from Illegal Immigration
By Bryan Caplan
Illegal immigrants are one of the few groups that modern Americans openly despise. Indeed, most people can’t even say “illegal immigrants” without sneer italics. Illegal immigrants are also one of the few groups that effectively can’t sue their employers for discrimination; if they make a stink, they get deported before they get to trial. The upshot: If anyone nowadays suffers from labor market discrimination, it’s illegal immigrants.
But notice: Americans have zero confidence in the ability of legal discrimination against this hated group to “protect their jobs from illegals” or discourage border crossing in the first place. No, they think American employers are far too greedy to pass up this golden opportunity to hire on the cheap.
In other words, it looks like most Americans already implicitly accept the Beckerian thoughtcrime that market forces alone heavily discourage – and ultimately eliminate – discrimination. Not for minorities, women, or gays of course; there Americans imagine that regulation and lawsuits explain virtually all progress since 1950. But for discrimination against the most despised minority of all, illegal immigrants, Americans firmly believe that greed trumps prejudice. And that’s why discrimination against illegals isn’t just legally allowed, but required.