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What Illegal Immigration?

May 2, 2012

Illegal immigration is not nearly as big a problem as the Presidential candidates would have you believe.  For all the talk of securing our borders, the simple fact is with the economic downturn, coming to work in the United States isn’t nearly as attractive as it was a decade ago.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the number of U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions last year was under 350,000, a number that hasn’t been seen since the 1970s.  Now, you can argue that these are just the people the border patrol catches, not the ones that slip through, but it’s our most reliable indicator of illegal border activity.

The same article notes that apprehensions peaked at 1.68 MILLION in 2000.  That was the peak of the economic boom (or bubble, depending on your perspective).  Even as late a 2006, the number of detainees was more than 1,000,000.  So we’ve seen a stunning drop in the number of illegal immigrants.  And remember, we now have improved detection technology, the “Tortilla Curtain” fence along the US-Mexican border near San Diego and other tools that have helped reduced the flow of illegals.

You’ll never hear any candidate bragging about it, but part of the reason is an improved Mexican economy, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  And before you say we exported all our jobs south of the border, try buying a small, inexpensive consumer goods item in a store that doesn’t say “Made in China.”  People say they want to “Buy American,” yet they don’t want to pay a lot for goods.  I sell major appliances and the price of these items remains comparatively low.  People bring in the receipt and papers from their refrigerator purchased a decade ago and the price is virtually the same.  It can be argued that the two products, new and old models, are different quality, but free trade works at holding down costs.  Japan tried to protect its markets with restrictive policies and look at their economy for the last decade or more.

The Trib article also points out that a number of illegals are “self-deporting,” returning to their native land as the job market in the United States has tightened as the economy soured.

Illegals did many of the jobs Americans didn’t want to do (at least at the prevailing wage).  Now, that minimum wage warehouse job is much more attractive.  Let’s improve the economy, get American back to work and help get illegal immigration back up to previous levels (sarcasm font needed).

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