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After its shellacking in November, the Republican Party is now splitting in two over the issue of immigration reform. On one side are the cynical, convinced the GOP must change its stand not out of principle or basic humanity but simply because of, as John McCain put it, "elections, elections." But on the other side are the even more cynical, reform opponents like Ann Coulter, David Vitter and the National Review who warn a path to citizenship is the surest route to millions of new Democratic voters.

But leaving aside for the moment the arguments as to why comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do, there can be little doubt that this is the right time to do it. After all, over just the past few years the population of undocumented immigrants has dropped from 12 to 11 million. By last year, the U.S. recession, stepped up border security, the growing Mexican economy and aging Mexican population combined may have produced a net outflow of undocumented workers. The result, contrary to conservative mythmaking, is an undocumented population over 60 percent of which has now been in the United States for over a decade.

That illegal immigration into the U.S. has plummeted is indisputable. As the Washington Post reported in December 2011, "The Border Patrol apprehended 327,577 illegal crossers along the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30, numbers not seen since Richard Nixon was president, and a precipitous drop from the peak in 2000, when 1.6 million unauthorized migrants were caught." But as the New York Times explained this week, that shift may continue even after the U.S. economy fully recovers:

By some key measures, the problems underlying illegal immigration --the economic and demographic pressures that have drawn Mexicans north for decades in search of jobs and a better life, and the challenges for the United States of securing its borders -- have diminished over the past six years.

The Mexican economy, while still riddled with inefficiency and inequality, is nonetheless humming along, providing many more job opportunities for Mexican workers. And in Mexico, the source of about 6 in 10 illegal immigrants in the United States, the birthrate has plummeted over the last few decades, shrinking the pool of potential emigrants.

Learn more below the fold.

To be sure, the ramped-up security at the border and aggressive immigration enforcement begun President Bush and expanded under President Obama has had a major impact. Deportations have surged under Obama, with the number hitting 409,000 in 2012 alone. As a recent report from the Migration Policy Institute revealed, "during the 2012 fiscal year, the federal government spent more on immigration enforcement—$18 billion—than on every other federal law enforcement agencies combined." And as Suzy Khimm documented in the Washington Post, the federal government has alreadysurpassed all of the border security metrics (including miles of fencing, surveillance towers, numbers of border agents and more) required by the 2007 immigration bill blocked by Republicans in Congress. Complaints from the likes of Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that "promises of enforcement never materialize" are simply belied by the facts.

Likely more important than enforcement, both in the near and longer term, is the changing economic and demographic landscape in Mexico. The deep U.S. recession saw jobs for new undocumented workers evaporate, a development reflected in the drop of money ($21 billion in 2011, compared to $24 billion in 2007) sent back to relatives south of the border. (In 2012, Asians and not Hispanics constituted the largest group of new arrivals to the U.S.) In 2010 and 2011, the Mexican economy grew at more than double the pace of the United States. As Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network recently explained:

The Mexican "baby boom" which encouraged so many Mexicans to migrate into the US has ended, and the Mexican economy is producing far more better paying jobs. The birth rate per Mexican woman had fallen from 7.3 in 1960 to almost 2 today. Mexican economic growth is equally significant: by 2010, Mexican GNI per capita had risen to nearly $9,000, up from $3,250 in 1991. Today Mexico is the 13th largest economy in the world, is America's 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market. If current trends continue, Mexico will be the 5th largest economy in the world by 2050. The result of these developments is that the enormous flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. we saw in the decade of the 2000s is almost certainly never going to be replicated.
The rising Mexican middle class combined with dramatically slower population growth mean, as Doris Meissner, a commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Bill Clinton and now a fellow at the Migration Policy Institute explained, "We are at a moment when the underlying drivers of what has been persistent, growing illegal immigration for 40 years have shifted." As the Times detailed:
Mexico's population growth has fallen to an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the first decade of this century from 3.2 percent in the 1960s, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The number of people under 15 years old is declining in Mexico, and the number of people ages 15 to 29 will start doing so in the coming years, an important shift given that most illegal immigrants arrive in the United States before age 30.

The result, as the Pew Hispanic Research Center found in late 2011, is that the contracting population of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has been in the country long--and established deeper roots—than most Americans realize:

The Pew Hispanic analysis finds that 35% of unauthorized adult immigrants have resided in the U.S. for 15 years or more; 28% for 10 to 14 years; 22% for 5 to 9 years; and 15% for less than five years. The share that has been in the country at least 15 years has more than doubled since 2000, when about one-in-six (16%) unauthorized adult immigrants had lived here for that duration.

Just as important, Pew found that "that nearly half (46%) of unauthorized adult immigrants today—about 4.7 million people—are parents of minor children."

The meaning of those numbers is unambiguous. Any calls for "self-deportation" or to "send them all back" aren't just completely divorced from reality; such policies would constitute a humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions. Those like Charles Krauthammer who believe that any amnesty before we "build the damn fence" will usher in a new wave of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America are looking at a world that no longer exists. But if Republicans continue to compare the undocumented to "dogs" (Steve King) or "goats" (Trent Lott), or suggest providing free condoms to Mexicans (Mark Kirk) or advocate the construction of an electrified border fence which will "kill you" (Herman Cain), no immigration policy could avoid the backlash from Hispanic voters that kind of GOP xenophobia is certain to produce. And that would spell trouble at the ballot box for years to come from Hispanic voters Pew is calling "an awakened giant:"

To put it another way for divided Republicans, comprehensive immigration reform with a real and fair path to citizenship for today's undocumented isn't just a moral imperative and a political necessity. Finally, it's time is now.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Designated scapegoats (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Boppy, ColoTim, Smoh

    The knock on immigration has always been about them "comin and takin our jobs". Although lately its been about them "gettin on social security".

     The first statement is a misrepresentation because illegal immigrants usually only take jobs on the lowest level of the scale, not jobs that Americans are actively competing for.
      The second statement is a right-wing fantasy.

      A jobs problem does indeed exist in this country, but it involves jobs being shipped overseas. And that's something you can't blame illegal immigrants on.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:04:38 PM PST

    •  Actually (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Boppy, Pluto, be the change you seek

      expanded immigration is the solution to that so-called social security problem.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:19:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't believe that, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boppy

        I also don't feel at all threatened by immigrants. Illegal or otherwise.

        ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

        by gjohnsit on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:21:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  More earners pay more into the Trust Fund (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          be the change you seek

          means longer term stability for SocSec.
          Of course, undocumented workers have been silently subsidizing SocSec and Medicaid/Medicare for decades. Employers withhold FICA and taxes from their checks and they never file for SocSec because they are ineligible even though they've been paying in, sometimes for decades.

          If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

          by CwV on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:49:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but it represents a net negative (0+ / 0-)

            to federal revenues, especially considering the massive costs of ACA subsidies which will kick in next year.

            •  Wrong. The ACA actually saves money. (0+ / 0-)
              CBO and JCT now estimate that the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of $1,168 billion over the 2012–2022 period—compared with $1,252 billion projected in March 2012 for that 11-year period—for a net reduction of $84 billion. (Those figures do not include the budgetary impact of other provisions of the ACA, which in the aggregate reduce budget deficits.)
              http://www.cbo.gov/...

              You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like he rushed it.- Bill Hicks

              by shoeless on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 06:55:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Do you think the cost of 12 million new (0+ / 0-)

                citizens are calculated by the CBO?  Hardly.  The addition of 12 plus million new people at lower income levels will increase the costs of ACA by tens (if not hundreds) of billions over the next ten years.

                Did you bother reading the main reason costs are less in that CBO study from last July?  Because of an estimated 6 Million additional people who will be uninsured rather than be in the program!  They are counting on 6 million additional people going uninsured to reap these savings.  Unbelievable!

                With about 6 million fewer people being covered by Medicaid but only about 3 million more people receiving subsidies through the exchanges and about 3 million more people being uninsured, and because the average savings for each person who becomes uninsured are greater than the average additional costs for each person who receives exchange subsidies, the projected decrease in total federal spending on Medicaid is larger than the anticipated increase in total exchange subsidies.
                In addition:
                The IRS just announced the cost of insuring a family of four will be $20,000 per year by 2016.

                Everyone I know is seeing rising premiums on their existing healthcare plans.

                Even if the costs to the feds went down, costs to American families are going way up!  So, societal costs as a whole, are going up and up.

                And, if you stop to think about it, the idea that adding millions of people to Medicaid and/or subsidies will lower the government's costs is ludicrous.

                •  I guess you didn't read this part of yyour article (0+ / 0-)
                  ...the projected decrease in total federal spending on Medicaid is larger than the anticipated increase in total exchange subsidies.
                  Also, documented or not, uninsured immigrants end up in emergency rooms, which costs us much more than insuring them through the ACA.

                  Anyway, my main point was to debunk the teabagger's lie that the ACA is going to drastically raise federal spending. Please stop telling that lie.

                  As far as insurance premiums, they have been skyrocketing for years. That is hardly due to the ACA.

                  The cost of providing health care benefits to employees rose by just 4.1% this year, the smallest increase in 15 years, according to a survey by human resources consultant Mercer.
                  I know this is a bit too much reality for you teabaggers,but try to deal with it.

                  You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like he rushed it.- Bill Hicks

                  by shoeless on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 08:05:36 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But 12 million new people were not included (0+ / 0-)

                    No estimate has yet been done that calculates the ACA costs incurred by adding millions of immigrants.

                    Go here: Health Reform Subsidy Calculator

                    Let's be generous and say these new immigrant families make $40,000 per year.  A family of four, will receive $8,126 in tax credit subsidies to pay for the estimated $10k policy.  Base income taxes for $40k with 2 children using standard deductions is less than $1000.  Net negative $7k to Uncle Sam.

                    Even a family making $60,000 will get subsidies of over $5000.

                    My original comment said it will be a net negative, and I stand by that.

                    •  It seems you have a comprehension problem (0+ / 0-)

                      about things you don't want to hear. I told you before that you are already paying for them when they show up at the emergency. This is incredibly inefficient, and is one of the main reasons that the health insurance costs, which you were complaining about, are so high.

                      That's enough for me on theis subject. I can see that I am wasting my time with you.

                      Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.

                      by shoeless on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 12:45:00 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  A healthy family of four costs nothing (0+ / 0-)

                        or next to nothing. When they do not get their health care at the ER it costs the hospital nothing.  Very little gets paid by the federal government anyway.  Most of the costs real costs - not billable) are eaten by the hospital and insurers, which are indeed passed on to other consumers.  But they are not federal dollars, in the main.

                        Paying $8000 to subsidize an insurance premium that goes entirely to a massive insurance company as all profit does not lessen the load.  You assume every immigrant is using up in ER visits as much as will be spent in their subsidies.  You cannot assume that.  And you cannot assume the real costs of those services are anywhere near the "billed" cost.

                        This BS that paying for private insurance "saves" money, is simply a myth.  Only single payer can save money as you are only paying for health care received, rather than health insurance that may never be used.

                        •  This is a simple concept. (0+ / 0-)

                          I doubt you will understand, but I'll try one more time anyway.

                          When people use Ers for their primary care, they get very sick before going in. The costs of such a practice is extremely high. This causes your insurance premiums to skyrocket, and will also lead to the need for much higher subsidies fore EVERYONE who will be receiving them from the Federal government. Getting health care for people, instead of packing ERs with them results in a net savings. This has always been a big part of the rational for savings under Obamacare.

                          I had a few minutes to waste, and I'm sure I just did.

                          Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.

                          by shoeless on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 06:38:35 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

          •  CwV (0+ / 0-)

            You must be dreaming, I'd like to see the employers who withhold FICA and SSI from undocumented workers checks. Who would they turn that tax in for????? They can't turn it in for the undocumented worker or they will go to jail for breaking the law. At my husbands old company they paid the illegals cash in an envelope, everyone else received regular pay checks!!!!! How can you withhold taxes from people who are not even on the books as workers, and get cash not checks so there's no paper trail to show for these workers, it's called having employees who work under the table!!!!!!

    •  NAFTA caused an enormous amount of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shoeless, xenothaulus, Witgren

      illegal immigration in the decade after it passed, as it displaced so much of the rural population.  Then as fickle corporations, always in search of ever-cheaper labor, pulled out of Mexico and moved operations to China and Indonesia, another wave of workers came to the U.S. looking for a way to provide for their families.

      Sometimes the U.S. is their own worst enemy by not considering the unintended consequences of their policies.  The motto of D.C. should be, "Well it sounded like a good idea at the time."

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 06:41:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Designated scapegoats (0+ / 0-)

      gjohnsit, I have to agree with you on this one. People need to wake up and realize corporate America is causing the loss of jobs by shipping them overseas to outsource the work!!!! The other thing they are doing is, bringing foreign workers here under the H1B and H2B worker program and making them work illegally. When the CEO's became greedy and had their pays raised so they no longer make 35-45% above the people that work for them, and now demanded 300-400%, this is why there are no jobs. Companies can't sustain those types of pays for the CEO's and keep the workers at the same time, so now they need slaves. Moving jobs overseas provides American corporations that ability!!!! The Mexican worker is taking labor jobs, but they don't have the education to take higher sill jobs. We have to work on education in this country, so we don't have to bring in foreign workers, but that our children are receiving the education they need to fill the highly skilled jobs of this era!!!!!!

  •  Interesting read (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Jon Perr, Smoh

    Thank you for the post!

    Small heads up, I did double-take at this bit:

    The deep U.S. recession saw jobs for new undocumented workers evaporate, a development reflected in the drop of money ($21 billion in 2011, compared to $4 billion in 2007) sent back to relatives south of the border.
    as the number there is quite a bit higher for 2011 than 2007, which isn't a drop. Typo?
  •  This is an impressive piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob

    ...with many departure points for further discussion -- beyond the political. For example:

    If current trends continue, Mexico will be the 5th largest economy in the world by 2050.
    Based on "changing" trends, Mexico is poised to be the headliner in the Americas -- along with Brazil -- as the powerhouse BRICS change the economic landscape of the globe. And that would happen by 2030, given its latest trading treaties with Asia and Europe, which will largely bypass the US dollar, as in the case of South American economic policy.

    Anyway, fascinating read.



    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:41:31 PM PST

  •  Numbers support my contention that the best (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, shoeless

    way to secure the border is to whack employers who hire undocumented workers.

    Over the last few years, there have been numerous reports of slowed immigration, and also of immigrants packing up and returning to Mexico.

    Makes a lot of sense when you consider that the bulk of Mexican immigrants, regardless of documentation, just like the bulk of immigrants throughout our history, are seeking better lives for themselves and their families.  If better lives are not to be found, they won't come.

    A sensible immigration policy will allow immigrants to come into the country and work within the rules and regulations and with the protections that we have set up for all workers.  Border control will consist of looking for the much smaller numbers of genuine bad guys because there will be no benefit to skirting the rules for traditional "better life" immigrants.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 06:48:21 AM PST

  •  Visa overstays are 40% of illegal immigrants. (0+ / 0-)

    While there may have been a significant drop in Mexican border crossings, visa overstays continue to be a huge problem.

    DHS Lacks Resources to Identify and Remove Visa Overstays, GAO Says   

    Roughly 40 percent of illegal immigrants in the United States simply overstayed their legal visas once they are in the country, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has limited resources to identify and remove these overstays, congressional investigators reported Tuesday.
    Our Department of Homeland Security (Insecurity in my book) is incapable or doesn't care to address the problem.

    I believe these people should not be allowed to participate in any new program leading to citizenship.  Or, at the very least, their time in country past their visa expiration should not count toward resident requirements.

  •  This is a classic GOP modus operandi (0+ / 0-)

    Ever since at least the Bush/Neocon era, the GOP has been all about defeating Democrats, not by convincing people that their ideas are better, but by attacking Democratic constituencies and bases of support.  The term I recall the Neocons throwing around a lot was "draining the swamp", at least until someone figured out that comparing a large part of the U.S. population to mosquitoes wasn't a great idea.

    Anyway, this is why they attack anything that involves labor unions (e.g. auto bailout, the Post Office, etc.), Latinos, academia, health care etc., and do everything they can to defund and disrupt government operations.  Even if these programs might make economic sense, they nonetheless create Democratic constituencies, which is unacceptable.  In other words, the GOTP is literally at war with its own citizens.

  •  "Leaving aside the arguments... (0+ / 0-)

    For why it's the right thing to do..".  There's your problem right there.  You can't make ANY legitimate argument for immigration reform without  first acknowledging that it's the right thing to do.  All the other arguments START from that premise...

  •  I live in a very Republican area (0+ / 0-)

    And 98% of the GOP voters around here (most of whom are country club Republicans, not flat-earth Republicans) are just sure that this is a Dem ploy to get voters. ' Let the poor people in, give them Obamaphones, and watch the poll results roll in!'

    If that were the case, seems to me the smart play for Repubs would be to jump aboard the immigration reform bandwagon and be LEADERS for a change (as opposed to mindless obstructions to legislative progress) and score the GOP some newly minted Latino voters.  Of course they could also choose this approach (being leaders not obstructionists) in many areas of American life and they would surely be rewarded at the polls.

    The funny thing is, I have done numerous voter registration drives and frankly the Latino voters overwhelmingly check the box that says "Republican!"  

  •  Excellent, thank you (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of great data below the fold.  I would add to your analysis a historical perspective.  During the Great Depression, we deported a whole lot of immigrants. Bad economic times at home tend to reduce immigration.

    Then all the sudden during wartime, we have huge labor shortage and need to create something like the Bracero Program.  Immigration cycles between booms and busts, which are often equal and opposite to the strength of the economy.

    All forms of fundamentalist thought breed magical thinking.

    by YankInUK on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 08:40:15 AM PST

  •  immigration (0+ / 0-)

    You people don't even no how much illegals have stolen from American citizen.They stole your children education.Think of all the money spent on educating illegal.That should have been spent on your American children.That was American tax payers money that was for your children.Instead they got overcrowded class room,less materials even more book that we didn't need for our children but for illegals.And the list can go on.Generations of American children have been cheated out of the higher education that they should have gotten.WE won't even talk identity thief,Gangs,Drugs. There the one that bring them into America.They are all criminals.Now you no why there's as been a on going dumbing down of American children.That's the real truth.And your Government new all about it.
         You see when the Illegal drain off all the state education money.The states had to go to the Government for money.That's when thing went south.The Government took over with the Department of Education.Unionize it all and now you pay three times as much for education that by their own admission is a failure.Ya! Those Mexican students that they want to give ammesty to are the one's you pay for the last 12 years.So the Government did this and lie's about it.And what do we get we are call racist.They should be thanking us.

    •  Education (0+ / 0-)

      Wow, you are actually proof of the "failure" of education in this country.  Not only are you totally wrong on almost every point, but you cannot even express yourself coherently.  So sit on the sidelines and let the adults have a conversation.

  •  I hate to seem to overly-critical (0+ / 0-)

    since I'm not done reading the whole post.  But it looks to me as if unauthorized immigrant population, rather than 'plummeting' in recent years, has stabilized.  Stabilized at numbers approximately 1/3 higher than at the beginning of the century, roughly coincident with US economic growth.  

    I'll finish the post, now; it looks fascinating.

    Planning a vacation or convention in Arizona? Come to Palm Springs instead! Same desert weather, none of the smog, traffic and bigotry.

    by grey skies turning to blue on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 01:20:32 PM PST

  •  immigration (0+ / 0-)

    You people don't even no how much illegals have stolen from American citizen.They stole your children education.Think of all the money spent on educating illegal.That should have been spent on your American children.That was American tax payers money that was for your children.Instead they got overcrowded class room,less materials even more book that we didn't need for our children but for illegals.And the list can go on.Generations of American children have been cheated out of the higher education that they should have gotten.WE won't even talk identity thief,Gangs,Drugs. There the one that bring them into America.They are all criminals.Now you no why there's as been a on going dumbing down of American children.That's the real truth.And your Government new all about it.
         You see when the Illegal drain off all the state education money.The states had to go to the Government for money.That's when thing went south.The Government took over with the Department of Education.Unionize it all and now you pay three times as much for education that by their own admission is a failure.Ya! Those Mexican students that they want to give ammesty to are the one's you pay for the last 12 years.So the Government did this and lie's about it.And what do we get we are call racist.They should be thanking us.

    •  Education redux (0+ / 0-)

      since you reposted your earlier rant, I will repost my earlier comment

      Wow, you are actually proof of the "failure" of education in this country.  Not only are you totally wrong on almost every point, but you cannot even express yourself coherently.  So sit on the sidelines and let the adults have a conversation.

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