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Richer countries are under pressure to respond to and regulate high levels of irregular migration reaching their borders. A prominent recommendation is for richer countries to expand opportunities for lawful or regular migration. Suppose they do. Will more regular migration simply raise migration overall, or will it substitute for and reduce irregular migration? The question underlies discussions around the Global Compact for Migration, a future international agreement on migration governance now being negotiated by United Nations Member States.

This brief sketches an important historical episode in which, in order for lawful migration channels to effectively alter the incentives and ultimately suppress irregular flows, those lawful channels were coupled with enhanced immigration enforcement. Likewise, enforcement efforts in this case have only been broadly successful when coupled with expanded channels for regular migration.

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