So Much For The Illegal Immigration “Crisis”
The idea that we are in the middle of an illegal immigration crisis is not supported by the evidence.
The number of illegal immigrants entering the United States has plunged by almost two-thirds in the past decade, a dramatic shift after years of growth in the population, according to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Between 2000 and 2005, an average of 850,000 people a year entered the United States without authorization, according to the report released Wednesday. As the economy plunged into recession between 2007 and 2009, that number fell to 300,000.
The sharp drop-off has contributed to an 8 percent decrease in the estimated number of illegal immigrants living in the United States, from a peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009, the report said. Of the 11.1 million, 8.9 million came from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Virginia, Florida and Nevada were among the states with steepest declines in their populations of illegal immigrants.
Likely reasons for the decline include an increase in law enforcement and deportations, and enactment of stricter legislation against illegal immigrants. He also pointed to more guest-worker spots, from 104,000 in 2000 to 302,000 in 2009 — allowing more immigrants to come to the United States legally.
“Life’s gotten pretty miserable for immigrants in the United States,” he said, noting that even for legal immigrants, many of whom have relatives who are unauthorized, the increased scrutiny has been stressful.
Economics has also played a role, especially in the past three years:
Large declines in illegal immigrants in Florida and Nevada are likely because of the mortgage and foreclosure crises and the loss of thousands of construction jobs, which immigrants often fill, Passel and Massey said. Florida’s illegal immigrant population fell by 375,000, to an estimated 675,000, between 2008 and 2009, and Nevada’s decreased by 50,000, to an estimated 180,000 during that period.
The number in Virginia fell by 65,000, to 240,000, which Passel attributed to the economy as well as stricter legislation passed in Prince William County in 2007 and 2008.
The nationwide trajectory will likely depend on the strength of the country’s economic recovery and the level of enforcement of immigration laws, Passel said.
This is yet another piece of information which seemingly debunks many of the centrally held beliefs of the political movement that is currently asserting that we are in the middle of an immigration “crisis.” Steven Taylor has posted here several times debunking other such myths, such as the idea that crime along the Mexico/Arizona border is at an all-time high, that Arizona itself is suffering through an illegal immigration fueled crime wave, and that the Obama Administration is not taking border enforcement seriously.
Before we start engaging in a wholesale immigration debate, it would be nice to get the facts right.