Pew: Illegal immigration down by two-thirds

Someone needs to tell this to the “anti-immigration” crowd, starting with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and that wack-a-doodle sheriff of hers, Joe Arpaio.

WaPo – Plum Line

A recent report from the Pew Hispanic center shows illegal immigration declining by nearly 67 percent, reports Tara Bahrampour:

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.

According to the report, the America’s illegal immigrant population has actually decreased by 8 percent.

One more thing that’s important to note from the report: “In addition to the decline in Nevada, three other Mountain states — Arizona, Colorado and Utah — experienced a decrease in their combined unauthorized immigrant population from 2008 to 2009.” That contradicts the arguments of supporters of Arizona’s SB 1070 and other border hawks that more restrictive laws are necessary because of a recent flood of undocumented immigrants. Although the report may still shed some light on why Arizonans feel that way: the larger trend is that, between 1990 and 2009, Arizona’s share of the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. increased.

The report also offers more evidence that the criticisms of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other Republicans about lax enforcement on behalf of the federal government are overblown, let alone hyperbole about an ongoing “invasion” from across the border. While careful to state that “the data in this report do not allow quantification” of all the factors involved in the decline of the illegal immigrant population, it lists major shifts in the level of immigration enforcement and in enforcement strategies,” as one of the major factors that “undoubtedly contribute to the overall magnitude of immigration flows.”

None of this is likely to change the politics of comprehensive immigration reform. Since completely “securing the border” is beyond our technical means, restrictionists can always call for more enforcement in lieu of actually working on legislation.

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