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Monday, December 29, 2008

Fewer Illegal Immigrants - Hooray?

I'm really not sure whether the news has me feeling happy or depressed. "The number of people caught trying to sneak into the USA from Mexico is at its lowest level since the mid-1970s". So since the fiscal year of 2008 saw only 705,000 arrests of attempted illegal immigration along the US-Mexico border, can we really say we're making a difference in the fight against illegal immigration? Or is it that our country isn't as appealing as it once was? Or maybe our border patrols just aren't doing that great of a job and we're simply seeing less results because of it?

Without proof either way, it's hard to tell if we should be celebrating or worrying.

We could take their word for it, I suppose.

Officials say these are signs of tougher enforcement and a weaker U.S. economy.

Chertoff cited a weaker U.S. economy and "tough enforcement," including the addition of 6,000 Border Patrol agents since 2006 and the construction of 526 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border since 2007. About 97% of illegal border crossers enter through Mexico, and about 90% are Mexican, Border Patrol figures show.

Josiah Heyman, a border expert at the University of Texas-El Paso, said that "economic conditions of the U.S. affect migration. Word gets back to Mexico really fast what the job opportunities are or are not," Heyman said. "It's possible we've crossed some threshold where it's risky and expensive to try to get to the U.S. (illegally) so it's beginning to discourage people." Illegal migrants often pay a smuggler about $2,000, Heyman said.

Okay, so it's not as easy to make the claim that the guys "aren't doing their jobs" when you take into account the added fencing and added patrol units. And of course, with the economy slipping downward here in the U.S., I can see that many potential illegal immigrants aren't willing to make the financial risk to cross just to be stuck with the risk of not having employment.

A second article I found is attributing the lowered number of illegal immigrants to the unemployment rate.

A recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, found that the proportion of Latino immigrants employed or seeking work in the US fell for the first time since 2003. It declined from 72.4 percent in the last quarter of 2007 to 71.3 percent in the last quarter of 2008.

The report also found that the unemployment rate for all Latinos was 7.9 percent in the third quarter of 2008, compared with 5.7 percent during last year's third quarter. The unemployment rate for the total US workforce is 6.1 percent.

It's not clear whether immigrant workers who have dropped out of the labor force are returning home or have just temporarily given up looking for jobs.

So fewer of them are crossing the border (based on fewer arrests and an assumed constant percentage of arrests), and fewer of them are getting jobs here in the U.S. - so what other numbers can we use to suggest we're "winning" in this war?

The number of illegal aliens removed or returned home this year rose 20 percent compared with a year ago, according to a Department of Homeland Security statement. There was also a 27 percent increase in arrests made while raiding workplaces by the US Immigration and Customs.

See, now THOSE are numbers I'm happy to see. There's no need to make assumptions about how well the border patrol is working or how illegal immigrants are taking to unemployment - we're deporting more of them and arresting more of them once they're here.

I just really can't buy into the whole notion that the economy itself in the past few months is really to blame (or deserves the credit) for these patterns, since we weren't even really made AWARE of economic problems until just a few months ago, and most of these statistics are from a period of time that ended pretty much right before all of the shit started hitting the proverbial fan. That just means that MORE of the credit can be given to our measures that have VERY slowly been taking place.

More ICE officers. More Border Patrol agents. More crackdowns and raids of American workplaces. More progress on the border fence. More laws being put into effect with harsher penalties for renting to or hiring illegal immigrants.

We just need to keep it up.

Unfortunately, with Barack Obama heading to the Oval Office soon, one can only furrow a brow and mutter a prayer that the "Change Train" isn't planning to derail the progress that has been made and has finally been able to prove some effectiveness. How long will it be before these liberals in power wind up shouting "Yes We Can" to illegal immigration amnesty and give these criminals the green cards they certainly do not deserve?

No, I don't care about the millions of illegal immigrants who work fervently at manual labor jobs for years without committing ADDITIONAL crimes. You can boo-hoo about the families that get torn apart when illegal immigrant parents get deported - it won't phase me. They are criminals who have committed a crime by entering the United States illegally.

I think, in the end, I can be happy with the knowledge that fewer of them were caught crossing the border this past year. I have enough reason to believe that it IS because fewer attempts are being made. And when that is paired with the increases in arrests and deportations - I think the tides may be slowly turning back in favor of U.S. citizens.

And I shall choose to enjoy it as long as possible . . . before it all gets fucked up by the incoming administration.

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