Thursday, September 02, 2010

It's The Economy, Stupid

And this story goes into the "How Unsurprising" bin: illegal immigration is down, according to DHS and a recent Pew Center study.

The total number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. dropped to 11.1 million in 2009, down from a peak of 12 million in 2007, according to estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan Washington-based group that studies the nation's Latino population. The report echoes the findings of a study released in February by the Department of Homeland Security.

About 300,000 illegal immigrants entered the U.S. each year from 2007 to 2009, down from the roughly 850,000 that entered annually from 2000 to 2005, according to the Pew report.

Why the substantial drop? I'm sure some politicians (especially in Arizona) would like to credit the substantial drop to the tougher border enforcement measures. Others would credit the increase in deportations by the Department of Homeland Security. Making the illegals feel unwelcome puts a damper on the flow of newcomers. This probably does have some effect, I have to admit.

I think, however, the real reason is the economy. Most of those risking their lives in crossing the desert and trusting in the criminals offering them easy passage for a price come to this country to find work, usually as unskilled laborers in the construction industry. Those jobs no longer exist because there is little new construction going on. Even skilled workers can't find jobs in this country. The passage isn't worth the cost.

When/if the economy rebounds, the undocumented workers will be back. That means immigration reform needs to stay on the table. The trick will be to make that reform real reform, not just mean-spirited political posturing. That will be the job of the 112th Congress. If the all-knowing talking heads are correct in their prediction of a Republican take-back of Congress this November, I fear we will get the political posturing rather than the reform which is long overdue.

And that would be both a shame and shameful.

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