Immigrating from a poor country to a rich country is tough, partly because rich countries think a flood of immigrants will depress wages for their native born.
But a new review of the available literature on the impacts of immigration from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that even a massive influx of immigrants wouldn't do much to depress wages for the native born. Via Robin Hanson, who lifts a bunch of relevant passages:
Their survey of the earlier literature found that a 10 percent increase in the immigrant share of the labor force reduced native wages by about 1 percent. Recent meta-surveys … found comparable, small effects across many studies. … The large majority of studies suggest that immigration does not exert significant effects on native labor market outcomes. Even large, sudden inflows of immigrants were not found to reduce native wages or employment significantly. Effects that do exist tend to be relatively small and concentrated among natives or past immigrants that are close substitutes.
Hanson concludes: "It seems that even if 90 percent of the workforce were immigrants, average native wages wouldn't fall by more than ~10 percent."
The review deals with the effects of immigration on public finance and prices of goods and services as well, in (relatively) plain language. It's worth checking out the whole thing.
Or read Reason's guide to reality-based immigration reform here.