The Corner

Attrition Works, cont’d

Two more indications that enforcement actually gets illegal aliens to leave. First from CNN:

The number of Mexican migrants returning to their country — mainly from the United States — has increased dramatically in the last five years compared with the previous five years.

According to the most recent numbers released by the Mexican census bureau, the increase was 31.9% in the period from 2005 to 2010, compared with 2000 to 2005 numbers.

The Mexican Institute of Statistics and Geography — INEGI by its Spanish acronym — says that during the last five years of the decade, 1.1 million Mexicans left their country. According to the government agency, by the time the national census was taken last summer, more than 351,000 Mexican migrants had returned to Mexico.

Two factors played a role in changing the pattern, according to Eduardo Sojo, INEGI’s president,

“The first factor was the situation of the economy in the United States, which decreased the number of (employment) options for migrants. The second factor was the increasing difficulties migrants have when they attempt to cross the border (illegally),” said Sojo.

And second, from the Phoenix suburb of Mesa:

As state lawmakers consider bills targeting the state’s illegal immigrants, suspected undocumented migrants arrested by Mesa police dropped 32 percent between 2009 and 2010.

Although activists in the Hispanic community say the drop is tied to the controversial Arizona Senate Bill 1070 immigration measure that was approved last summer, police officials are reluctant to attribute the decline solely to the bill.

“There’s a lot of factors,” said Sgt. Ed Wessing, a Mesa police spokesman. He cited the local economy as one other reason. …

Before the bill became law, immigrants fled the Valley, said Magdalena Schwartz, pastor at Discipulos del Reino church in Mesa.

“We still have numerous people that are afraid of SB 1070,” Schwartz said. “That was one reason they decided to leave the city and state.”

There’s no question that enhanced enforcement and the recession were pulling in the same direction, just as weak enforcement and the strong economy had previously fed off each other to increase the illegal population. But the relative contribution of enforcement to the decline is almost beside the point — there’s just no gainsaying that illegal immigrants leave (and fewer new ones come) when we enforce the law. Unfortunately, we’d only just started some rudimentary enforcement in the last year or so of the Bush administration before Obama came in and pulled the plug on even some of those efforts.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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