Some 1.3 million illegal immigrants have left the United States since Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the summer of 2007. If the trend continues, according to a new study, the nation’s illegal population will drop by half in the next five years.
Moreover, reports the Center for Immigration Studies, young Hispanic immigrants began heading south before the nation’s economy did – a clue that what’s driving the new outmigration is a stepped-up border and workplace enforcement, not a souring US job market.
* One indication that stepped-up enforcement is responsible for the decline is that only the illegal immigrant population seems to be affected; the legal immigrant population continues to grow.
* Another indication enforcement is causing the decline is that the illegal immigrant population began falling before there was a significant rise in their unemployment rate.
* The importance of enforcement is also suggested by the fact that the current decline is already significantly larger than the decline during the last recession, and officially the country has not yet entered a recession.
The report does concede, however, that the current economic slowdown is undoubtedly responsible for part of the decline.