Looking to Actual Numbers

A chart to ponder.

As we talk and think about the border (and the hysteria that the president seeks to foment), I would ask consideration of a tweet from earlier this week.

Yes, there are still a lot of people crossing illegally.  But we really need to keep in mind the comparative-historical context.


FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. mike shupp says:

    There are some 12 to 15 thousand new arrivals in this nation, every day, ceaselessly swelling our population, at tremendous cost. I refer to people who speak not a word of English and who will have to be painstaking taught our native language over a period of years. People who cannot pay their own medical bills, have no notion of driving automobiles, no grasp of their civic responsibilities, no innate respect for hard work or religion or sexual morality or other human virtues. People who will contribute nothing to the American economy for years — decades even.

    And yet we welcome them with open arms — for I refer to infants, The 12 to 15 thousand born each and every day, which most of us see as the source of our future strength and well being.

    And we are filled with terror at the thought of 7000 migrants arriving at our borders — the equivalent of 12 hours of childbirth in our nation.

  2. Mister Bluster says:

    @mike shupp:..And yet we welcome them with open arms — for I refer to infants,..

    Yeah. Well, most of them anyway.

  3. PJ says:

    @mike shupp:

    And yet we welcome them with open arms

    Steve King begs to differ.

  4. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @One American: Sorry, I missed the “facts” part of your comment – or are you confused between “facts” and your personal assessment.

    @mike shupp: Thanks for putting it in perspective – Well expressed!

  5. michilines says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown: He’s just doing the “some immigrants are better than others” thing. He probably moved because he could — if he has at all. It’s hard to tell with liars.

    There is more than enough room in this country for lots more people. We will need more people very soon. As @mike shupp: points out, we welcome a good number of infants, but those numbers will not keep that dude happy in retirement.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @One American:

    The Southern invaders never seem to be satisfied.

    The same “southern invaders” who sacrificed more than you can ever dream of just for a chance at a life that you take for granted? Who brave beatings, kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder just for a chance at it? The ones who when they get here, work harder and longer than most Americans would even think of without any kind of safety net? Knowing if they get injured on the job they will be dumped on the curb in a NY second? Knowing that if they get robbed of their pay, there is nothing they can do about it?

    You are a clueless, pampered, ignorant, over privileged ass. You’ve were born with the winning lottery ticket of being white, male, and American and yet you’re never satisfied.

  7. Ben Wolf says:

    @One American:

    The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

  8. MattBernius says:


    You’ve were born with the winning lottery ticket of being white, male, and American and yet you’re never satisfied.

    Fwiw, LavaLand/One American has said a few times that she is a woman.

  9. Tony W says:

    @One American: That’s funny, the thing I miss the most about Southern California is the large immigrant population. The food is incredible!

  10. There is something kind of especially clueless to talk about “Southern invaders” in California, which used to be part of Mexico. I am not saying that Mexicans have a right to migrate as a result, but goodness what a telling way of putting this. There is also the fact that a lot of the Mexicans in California are, in fact, Mexican-Americans.

    And while I left California 28, rather than 25, years ago, I find this characterization ridiculous.

    That main challenge for living in California, apart from the traffic, is affording housing.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MattBernius: My bad, thanx for the correction. Still not sure she isn’t actually Russian.

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It may be groups with certain historical privileges fear those they have abused in the past will, if given the opportunity, do the same in return.

  13. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I think it’s really telling that an anecdotal account was closed with this:

    Not hysteria just facts.

    In my new role I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about story versus fact. One of the advocate groups I worked with told me directly that “we have found that story trumps facts at all times.” One American has her story (complete with a model minority) and she’s going to stick to that despite any counterfactuals.

    When I asked that advocate about how they deal with that, their answer was “we have found that facts don’t work. We never use facts to counter stories. We are only successful when we can tell a better story.”

    I’ve yet to work out what the better story is in this case.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I’ve yet to work out what the better story is in this case.

    Just have it end with “and they all lived happily ever after.”

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @One American:

    …and assume lying??

    This is worth responding to. Why do I assume you are likely lying? Because you are a Trumper. At the minimum that means that you are willing to overlook his lies and other proof of bad ethics. The fact that you look up to a man who has literally conned retirees out of their life savings tells me quite a bit about your character. Sure, I guess it’s possible that a Trumper could be in it solely for the judges and be holding their nose when it comes to their Trump support. Such a person may, conceivably, be honest. But you have given no indication that is true in your case.

  16. JohnMcC says:

    Meanwhile, it does not resemble an invasion in ANY way that some 56 thousand Spanish-speaking immigrants arrived on our southern borders FROM CUBA in the most recently counted year of ’16. Wonder why that is….

  17. mattbernius says:

    Honestly, I go in the opposite direction. I assume that One American truly believes most everything she writes (or at least believes the underlying argument and is driving the point home with hyperbole). I think this is something that a lot of people don’t appreciate enough.

    I also believe that she (and others) don’t engage in deep or thoughtful debate in order to protect said beliefs. Participating here is more a type of political culture virtue signaling than any attempt at a substantive discussion. Though that seems true of a number of posters here regardless of their political orientation — sometimes we all need a place to vent our collective spleens.

  18. dennis says:


    I will gat-dayum guarantee y’all, One American is a white male.

  19. Blue Galangal says:

    @dennis: But some of his best friends/girlfriends/wives are black/Mexican/Latino!

  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Not one of those Mexican immigrants tried to assassinate 12 high ranking members of the Democratic Party.
    Not one of those Mexican immigrants was responsible for the largest slaughter of Jewish-Americans in this nations history.
    There is only one group of people that scare me at this moment…the Red Hats.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: Fair point. I figure there are three types of people that go all in for Trump support:
    1) People that just don’t see a problem with lying or cheating, especially when used against people they view as “less then” or “the enemy”.
    2) People who are so mentally challenged they literally believe everything they are told by their chosen leaders, and disbelieve everything they are told by those they perceive as “less then” or “the enemy”.
    3) People who recognize the moral cesspit that is Trumpism, but feel they need to pretend to believe in him out of self preservation or opportunism.
    4) People who pay so little attention to politics they don’t really know enough about Trump to have a solid opinion about him, but Fox News is what’s playing in the background at work/the bar/the restaurant and those guys seem to think he’s OK.

    Only number 4 could result in a person I could trust, and I admit I know a fair amount of people like that. However, anyone that posts several times a day on a political blog is disqualified from that category.

  22. Just nutha says:

    @One American: Okay. Did you just fall of the turnip truck yesterday? Land on your head?

  23. Neil Hudelson says:


    One of the advocate groups I worked with told me directly that “we have found that story trumps facts at all times.”

    This is pretty much a universal fact in the nonprofit world now, and it’s not just a truism–there are data backing it up.

    I’ve spent many hours comparing solicitation letters I send for the ACLU that are awash in facts–how many abortion clinics we’ve kept open, how many families we’ve reunited, how many gay students we’ve stood up for–versus a letter with one good story. The good story always, always brings in 4x the money the facts do. (To their credit, every nonprofit I’ve worked or consulted for takes pains to ensure their stories are also completely factual.)

    Humans are emotional creatures. Tell a story about an historical genocide and you get knowing nods. Tell someone a pencil is named Dan and has two kids, and watch them gasp as you break the pencil in two.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    5) People who can’t count

    I should really check my posts more closely…

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Tell someone a pencil is named Dan and has two kids, and watch them gasp as you break the pencil in two.

    I hope you don’t mind if I shamelessly steal this…

  26. mattbernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    All of that makes sense and I understand it on a mental. I’m still new enough to this game that I’m working to really internalize it.

    On the issue of “truth” and “belief” I heard something at work that I think really crystalizes things even better than what I said above. I think what so many Trump supporters believe — even the ones who intentionally engage in deceitful trolling (i.e. continuing to share false facts after being corrected) — is a fundamental belief that they have a significant grievance against society.

    You can read it in the story One American shared above. And it’s the belief in the truth of that grievance that everything else proceeds from.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: What you say makes sense, but I don’t think it changes the fact that an informed Trumper is most likely untrustworthy. They feel that it’s okay to lie if they don’t like you. And when it’s to someone’s advantage it doesn’t take much to generate some kind of reason to dislike you.

  28. I think that we cannot dismiss the committed partisan who is in full or partial denial about Trump. Who balances in their minds, for example, the mission of “saving babies” from abortion versus Trump’s nationalist rhetoric. I think, too, we fool ourselves about how easy it can be to ignore nonsense on “our side” or to treat something “as a joke” or whatever.

    Look at the contortions that committed feminists will still put themselves in to support Bill Clinton (let alone the mental gymnastics that were used in the 90s).

  29. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    100% — in particular on abortion which is one issue where there can ultimately never be any satisfactory compromise if you see it as murder.

    Likewise, there are more recent examples like the number of people who suddenly started to really care about Yemem after Obama left office.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I really hope you are correct. There are simply so many Trump supporters. I would like to believe there is a significant number who are are simply amoral or immoral.

  31. Neil Hudelson says:


    Go for it. I was sure I didn’t come up with it. Sure enough, I stole it from Dan Harmon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAwSVOlOgH8

  32. @MarkedMan:

    There are simply so many Trump supporters. I would like to believe there is a significant number who are are simply amoral or immoral.

    First, most people do not pay attention to politics to any significant degree, even if they have a partisan ID.

    Second, partisan ID is strong and if one is a Republican then the default position is to give “your” guy the benefit of the doubt (and vice versa). There is just no escaping that.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dennis: You could well be correct. One Russian sounds more male to me too, hence my assumption.

  34. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This is exactly what I was thinking: California was Mexican before it was American.

    I have lived in California for 50 years, and I love every bit of diversity. I love that we have a vibrant Indian community, that some of my neighbors are immigrants from Spanish speaking countries (every single the children speaks fluent, unaccented English so they assimilate just fine). Traffic is horrible and housing is hideously expensive, granted, but those are problems that come with people wanting to live here.

  35. @One American: I am guessing you don’t realize how that defense sounds.

  36. (Not to mention the irony of complaining about an “invasion” and living as a white person in Hawaii).

  37. mattbernius says:

    @One American:

    I have Japanese and Mexican great grandchildren and currently reside as a minority in the melting pot known as Hawaii.

    Just out of curiosity, are those great-grandchildren adopted from Mexico and Japan? Or do you mean that one of those two parents are of Japanese or Mexican descent?

    Because my assumption would be those kids would simply be “Americans”, but call me crazy.

  38. mattbernius says:

    @One American:

    I think I have my race card covered

    This is a line of thought I don’t particularly understand. Is it that you are collecting ethnicities like pokemon cards?

    Or is it an idea that because people of X race married into your family there’s no possibility that you could have any race-based prejudices (aka the Snerdly principle)?

    In my limited experience, I’ve seen lots of people who are really great to their mixed-race relatives but have a LOT of opinions for all the “bad” members (pretty much everyone who they are not related to who doesn’t act white) of said race.