Tide of illegal immigrants now being reversed
Border crackdown and tough economic times in the US are seen as reasons.
(Page 2 of 2)
"We've seen a turn of the tide in terms of illegal immigration," he told the House Homeland Security Committee, citing a "substantial" decline in apprehension of illegal immigrants crossing the border and reports that remittances through Mexico and other countries in Central America from the US are declining.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Anecdotal evidence supports that claim.
The Rev. Robin Hoover of Humane Borders in Tucson, Ariz., delivers water in the desert to help people survive the trek into the United States. "Without doubt, people have left, and without question fewer people are coming," he said in a phone interview, citing conversations with migrants on both sides of the border. He attributes the shift to extensive knowledge within the illegal immigrant communities of declining work prospects in the US.
"A lot of people doing the recruiting are friends, uncles, cousins, relatives. People crossing the border may not know what kind of work they will be doing, but they know it's work and there's somebody at the other end making the arrangement," he adds. "As I've said for years, the migrants on the South Side of Chicago know more about the economy than the US Labor Department."
Analysts at the Center for Immigration Studies note that there's always uncertainty when estimating the illegal population. Monthly data collected by the Census Bureau through May 2008 shows a significant decline in the number of less-educated, young Hispanic immigrants, but the authors note that in a climate of stepped-up enforcement, people may be more wary of answering a government survey. "This in turn could create the illusion that the illegal population is falling when in fact the population remains unchanged." But they add that other data – such as remittances home, border apprehensions, and school enrollment data – signal that illegal workers are leaving the country.
Other immigration experts note that there's a long-term correlation between immigration and the economy.
The difference is that if illegal workers are leaving their jobs because of a stepped-up enforcement, there's an opportunity for legal workers to take their place. If they're leaving because the jobs are disappearing, that's less the case, Mr. Malanga says. "With so many unskilled legal residents out of work, greater enforcement coming at a time of economic stress might afford these individuals an opportunity to find new jobs," he says.