Second-order harms to immigrant-receiving countries

Some opponents of open borders and immigration have argued that, in addition to the direct harms of immigration, there are also a number of second-order harms — harms for which the behavior of immigrants is not directly responsible, but rather, harms that result from the response in labor markets and other parts of society. Some of these objections are:

  • Second-order welfare objection: By pushing native wages down and rendering some natives unemployed, immigration is indirectly responsible for pushing these natives into welfare dependency.
  • Second-order crime: By pushing native wages down and rendering some natives unemployed, immigration is indirectly responsible for pushing these natives into a life of crime.
  • Nativist backlash: High levels of immigration can trigger anti-immigrant and nativist backlash from those who don’t like immigrants.
  • Contraction of welfare state: Some of those who are supportive of the welfare state are afraid that immigration, by creating a nativist backlash, may undermine popular support for the welfare state.
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