The Corner

Attrition Works — So Why Do We Need Amnesty?

The Pew Hispanic Center has a new report out finding that the growth in the Mexican immigrant population has stopped, and the total number has even declined a little. (See the WaPo sumary here.) This was caused by the number of new arrivals (mostly illegal) in 2005–2010 dropping by half to about 1.4 million, while the number going home doubled, to just under 1.4 million. The report estimates that the number of people actually deported by the federal government accounts for only between 5 percent and 35 percent of those leaving. While that’s a pretty big range, the upshot is that most Mexicans who’ve left have done so on their own. What’s more, Pew estimates that those returnees took 100,000 American-born children with them.

In other words, attrition works. But if illegal immigrants are going home on their own, why do we need an amnesty? The argument for it is that the illegal immigrants are firmly rooted here and aren’t going anywhere. While that’s probably true for some illegals, it’s obviously not true for lots of them. So why not wait and see how much more the illegal population can be reduced through attrition before we surrender and declare an amnesty?

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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