Immigration crackdown may boost US job prospects
More than 9,000 illegal immigrants were prosecuted in March, a big hike from a year ago.
What's needed to discourage illegal immigration into the United States has been known for years: Enforce existing law.Skip to next paragraph
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Amazingly, that is happening now – to some degree. This trend may already be shrinking the flood across the Mexican border and have a modest positive impact on job prospects for "native born" Americans during the present economic slump.
Immigration prosecutions reached an all-time high in March, reports the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research and distribution group at Syracuse University in New York. Using data from the Justice Department, it calculates that prosecutions were up 49 percent from February and 72.7 percent from March of last year. This highly unusual surge is filling up US detention centers and jails.
March prosecutions numbered 9,360. That's small compared to the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US. Nonetheless, "It's working," says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that would like immigration levels reduced considerably.
The hike in prosecutions stems from an expansion of "Operation Streamline" last year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Under the effort, undocumented aliens caught by border guards are no longer simply steered into "air-conditioned buses," as Mr. Krikorian puts it, and driven back across the border to try crossing again. Instead, they are charged with crimes and detained.
The most common charge is "reentry of a deported alien." But there are at least nine other crimes, including entry of an alien at an improper time or place. The result is detention until trial, usually before US Magistrate Courts. A typical sentence is one month, and then "removal."
That time under detention, DHS hopes, will deter these aliens from trying again and discourage others from even trying. Border crossings have plunged, especially in areas where those caught are put into lockups. Border patrol apprehensions along the Mexican border were down 17 percent to 347,372 between October 2007 and March 2008, compared with the same period a year previous.