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President Barack Obama ’s move to potentially offer legal-worker status to several million undocumented immigrants will send unpredictable ripples through the U.S. economy, prompting many to seek higher paying jobs and heightening wage competition in a number of sectors, economist say.
Those studying the potential impact of the president’s executive order, which he’s expected to announce Thursday night, point to the Reagan-era 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which allowed around 1.7 million undocumented immigrants to become lawful permanent residents and around 1 million farmworkers to apply for a higher level of legal status.
The 1986 law had an almost immediate labor-market impact, according to government research as well as studies conducted by a number of economists, sociologists, and demographers.
Federal data showed that immigrants in farming and sales jobs were the most likely to move to higher-paying work in different industries.