Number of illegal residents way down?

A study by the Center for Immigration Studies says that there has been an 11% drop in the number of illegal residents in the past year. “CIS research director Steven Camarota and demographer Karen Jensenius write that the illegal population, which they now estimate at 11.2 million, dropped 1.3 million since last August from 12.5 million. If the decline continued for another five years, they write, that population would fall by one half.”
This seems to me too huge a change that could be accounted for in one year, especially without strong confirmation from other ways of estimating the illegal population.
The Center for Immigration Studies has taken a hard stand against illegal immigration.
the article in full:
A report released yesterday by a nonprofit research group estimates that the number of illegal aliens in the United States dropped significantly in the past year after a steep increase.


The D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said Census Bureau data indicate the number of unlawful residents fell 11 percent by May 2008 after peaking the previous August. While the CIS report Homeward Bound: Recent Immigration Enforcement and the Decline in the Illegal Alien Population attributes some of this decline to a slowing economy, it says increased enforcement seems to have had an impact.
CIS research director Steven Camarota and demographer Karen Jensenius write that the illegal population, which they now estimate at 11.2 million, dropped 1.3 million since last August from 12.5 million. If the decline continued for another five years, they write, that population would fall by one half.
As the number of illegals drops, the number of legal immigrants is still rising, suggesting to CIS that the economy alone hasn’t reduced the illegal population. The report also says the number of illegals in America began dropping before their jobless rate rose substantially in early 2008.
Unlawful residents have declined in number during past economic slowdowns, but the decline CIS recorded during the current downturn exceeds the 7-percent drop during the more severe recession from Mar. 2001 to Nov. 2001.
Enforcement efforts the researchers point to as having lowered the number of illegals include fencing more of the U.S.-Mexico border over the past 18 months, doubling the number of border patrol agents to 16,500 over the last few years and increasing worksite arrests fivefold since 2004.
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported deportation of 176,000 immigrants from the U.S. between Sept. 2007 and Jul. 2008, accounting for only a small part of the decline the illegal population during that time. Dr. Camarota said this indicates many illegals respond to stepped-up enforcement and leave on their own.
‘It challenges directly the argument that we have to legalize folks because there’s no other choice,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to deport everyone.’
He and Ms. Jensenius write that Congress’s failure to amnesty nearly all of the illegal aliens in America in July 2007 likely factored into the decision many immigrants made to return home. President George W. Bush and other lawmakers’ clamoring for a mass legalization probably enticed many illegal immigrants to enter in the months leading up to the bill’s defeat.
Dr. Camarota said that the enthusiasm presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have shown for amnesty could compromise the headway the government has made in reducing the number of illegal aliens.
‘The biggest threat is the public pronouncements of political candidates,’ he said.
Many open-borders advocates argue for legalizing unlawful residents and expanding opportunities to immigrate lawfully on the logic that immigrants are not only economically and culturally beneficial to America but difficult to remove in large numbers.
Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, said she doubts the CIS study gives enough weight to economic factors and doesn’t expect sustained enforcement at the current level to reduce the illegal population dramatically.
‘In the long haul, sure, with an absolutely draconian immigration policy nationwide we could squeeze these workers out of the economy,’ she said. ‘But why would that be good for us?’

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