Managing immigration: A review of some past projections

B. Lindsay Lowell


International migration may not be amenable to expert knowledge and projections are often unreliable. Three examples of projections suggest failures regardless of scale, timeline or method: trend mechanics failed to anticipate the rapid rebound in temporary visas after the socioeconomic shocks of 2001, alternate assumptions generated wildly differing projections of visas under Congressional deliberation in 2006, and all theories/projections failed to anticipate recent declines in Mexico-to-US migration. While near term projections are required for planning the complex machinery to manage migration, medium-to-long range projections may inform but should not drive migration policy. Rather, admission policies should incorporate principals of self-regulation that prioritize domestic markets.


Managing immigration; admission policies; projections; US

Full Text:



Binational Study (1997). Migration Between Mexico and the United States, Mexico City: Litografìa Regina de los Ángeles S.A.,

Camarota, S. A. and K. Zeigler (2009). “A Shifting Tide: Recent Trends in the Illegal Immigrant Population,” Center for Immigration Studies,

Chiquiar, D. and A. Salcedo (2013). “Mexican Migration to the United States: Underlying Economic Factors and Possible Scenarios for Future Flows,” Migration Policy Institute, Flows.pdf. Flows.pdf

Congressional Budget Office (2006). “S. 2611, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006,” US Congress,

Krepps, S., B. L. Lowell, G. Flores and M. Rom (2005). “Consular Affairs Futures Study,” Report by Change Navigators to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Washington, D.C.

Johnson, H. and L. Hill (2011). “Illegal Immigration,” Public Policy Institute of Cali-fornia,

Lowell, B. L. (2006a). “Projecting Immigrant Visas: Report on an Experts Meeting,” Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University.

Lowell, B. L. (2006b). “Projected Numbers of Foreign Computer and Engineering Workers under the Senate's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S.2611),” Institute for the Study International Migration, Georgetown University.

Lowell, B. L. and P. Khadka (2010). “Trends in Foreign Student Admissions to the United States: Policy and Competitive Effects.” In: Chiswick, Barry R. (ed.), High-Skilled Immigration in a Global Labour Market, AEI Press: Washington, D.C. Pages 83-108.

Martin, P. and J. E. Taylor (2013). “Ripe with Change: Evolving Farm Labor Markets in the United States, Mexico and Central America,” Migration Policy Institute,

Massey, D. S. (2011). “Chain Reaction: The Causes and Consequences of America's War on Immigrants,” IZA No. VIII,

Massey, D. S. and R. M. Zenteno (1999). “The Dynamics of Mass Migration,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96(9): 5328-5335.

Neiman, B. and P. Swagel (2009). The Impact of Post-9/11 Visa Policies on Travel to the United States. Journal of International Economics 78 (1): 86-99.

Passel, J. S. and R. Suro (2005). “Rise, Peak, and Decline: Trends in U.S. Immigration 1992-2004,” Pew Hispanic Center,

Passel, J. S. and D. Cohn (2009). “Mexican Immigrants: How Many Come? How Many Leave?” Pew Hispanic Center,

Roberts, B., E. Alden, B. L. Schwartz and J. Whitley (2013). “Managing Illegal Immigration to the United States: How Effective Is Enforcement?” Council on Foreign Relations,

Taleb, N. N. (2007). The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, London: Random House US Department of State, nd. “Visa Wait Times - for Interview Appointments and Processing,”

US Government Accountability Office (2006). “Border Security: Reassessment of Consular Resource Requirements Could Help Address Visa Delays,” GAO-06-542T,

US Government Accountability Office (2007). “Border Security: Long-term Strategy Needed to Keep Pace with Increasing Demand for Visas,” GAO-07-847,

Yale-Loehr, S., D. Papademetriou, and B. Cooper (2005). Secure Borders, Open Doors: Visa Procedures in the Post-September 11 Era. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Available at


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Transnational Press London

Copyright © 2003-2018 Migration Letters / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us