Illegal immigration to the U.S. has slowed sharply since 2007, with the bleak U.S. job market apparently discouraging people from heading north.
The influx of illegal immigrants plunged to an estimated 300,000 annually between March 2007 and 2009, from 850,000 a year between March 2000 and March 2005, according to new study released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.
The decline contributed to a contraction in the overall size of the undocumented population to 11 million people in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million two years earlier, according to the Pew analysis, which is based on data from the Census Bureau.
The news comes as the Obama administration continues to tighten border security (assigning National Guard units to assist border patrols, and increasing drone flights) and more aggressive enforcement of laws preventing the hiring of illegal immigrants. As the Dallas Morning News reports, “removals from the U.S. interior have steadily climbed. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have said their goal is to expel a record 400,000 people for the fiscal year ending this month.
All that said, the dismal economy has no doubt had a much bigger impact on cutting illegal immigration than anything that the federal government or the Obama administration has done. It has always been about jobs; as long as U.S. firms were gonna hire them, the immigrants were gonna come. The hiring has largely stopped, the inflow has largely stopped.
However, the unsurprising news that illegal immigration has slowed to a relative trickle — and that the total population of illegal immigrants has declined — highlight the fact that the overheated rhetoric about the administration “abandoning American soveriegnty” on the border and the passage of a draconian Arizona law (also backed by both gubernatorial candidates here in Georgia) all lack a cause in actual fact.
The problem is much less serious than it ever was, the federal government is doing more than it ever did, yet to hear the rhetoric the sky is falling and the country is collapsing and the world is coming to an end at the hands of illegal immigrants. I can’t remember a time in which hysteria so dominated the American political scene.