Sunday, May 06, 2012

More actual facts about (illegal) immigration

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Prof. Douglas Massey
Douglas Massey

I don’t have any particular interest in immigration policy, but it’s always fun to see Right-wing culture warriors’ claims destroyed by actual facts regardless of the subject matter, such as when it comes to all the hysterics over the need to “secure the border!” to stem the flood of “illegals”. From a profile of Douglas Massey, founder and head of the Mexican Migration Project:

Hardly anyone is trying to sneak across the Mexican border these days, although you might not know that by watching the news, trolling the blogosphere, or following the political debates. For a certain brand of self-styled patriot, “Secure the border!” has become a rallying cry on the order of “Remember the Maine!” but border enforcement has reached record levels by any metric one wants to use. Twenty years ago, there was no fence along the Mexican border, but there are now more than 850 miles of fence (in several, unconnected sections) between Brownsville, Texas, and San Diego, Calif. The budget for border control — about $11.8 billion this year — is 13 times larger than it was in 1990, and last year the Immigration and Naturalization Service deported more than 400,000 people who had been living in the United States illegally, a record.


  • We are not being flooded with illegal Mexican migrants. The total number of migrants from Mexico has varied very little since the 1950s. The massive influx many have written about never happened.
  • Net illegal migration has stopped almost ­completely.
  • Illegal migration has not stopped because of stricter border enforcement, which Massey characterizes as a waste of money at best and counterproductive at worst.
  • There are indeed more undocumented Mexicans living in the United States than there were 20 years ago, but that is because fewer migrants are returning home — not because more are sneaking into the country.
  • And the reason that fewer Mexican citizens are returning home is because we have stepped up border enforcement so dramatically.

Mull over that last point for a minute. If Congress had done nothing to secure the border over the last two decades — if it had just left the border alone — there might be as many as 2 million fewer Mexicans living in the United States today, Massey believes.

So the current hullabaloo over illegal immigration is less a rational response to an actual problem and more the result of constant fear-mongering from demagogues appealing to a tribalistic voter base that’s increasingly untethered to reality? Color me shocked.

(via The Agitator)