When Mitt Romney said in a Republican debate that illegal
immigrants could be encouraged to self-deport, the smart people all
laughed at him. But the latest Pew Hispanic Center
report suggests that this may, in part, be happening.
- In the five-year period from 2005 to 2010, about 1.4 million
Mexicans immigrated to the United States and about 1.4 million
Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children moved from the
United States to Mexico.
- In the five-year period a decade earlier (1995 to 2000), about
3 million Mexicans had immigrated to the U.S. and fewer than
700,000 Mexicans and their U.S. born-children had moved from the
U.S. to Mexico.
- This sharp downward trend in net migration has led to the first
significant decrease in at least two decades in the number of
unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.—to 6.1 million
in 2011, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007. Over the
same period the number of authorized Mexican immigrants rose
modestly, from 5.6 million in 2007 to 5.8 million in 2011.
Much of this has to do with relative economic conditions in the
United States and Mexico. But immigration enforcement is also
playing a role.
- Apprehensions of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally
have plummeted by more than 70% in recent years, from more than 1
million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011—a likely indication that fewer
unauthorized immigrants are trying to cross. This decline has
occurred at a time when funding in the U.S. for border
enforcement—including more agents and more fencing—has risen
- As apprehensions at the border have declined, deportations of
unauthorized Mexican immigrants—some of them picked up at work or
after being arrested for other criminal violations—have risen to
record levels. In 2010, nearly 400,000 unauthorized immigrants—73%
of them Mexicans—were deported by U.S. authorities.
- Although most unauthorized Mexican immigrants sent home by U.S.
authorities say they plan to try to return, a growing share say
they will not try to come back to the U.S. According to a survey by
Mexican authorities of repatriated immigrants, 20% of labor
migrants in 2010 said they would not return, compared with just 7%
National Journal has an
interesting take on what this could mean for the conventional
wisdom about the Hispanic vote, long assumed to be a harbinger of
Democratic dominance, going forward.