Hey, what do you know? Enforcement works!

posted at 11:25 am on July 31, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

A report from the Center for Immigration Studies concludes that illegal immigrants have left the US in large numbers, thanks to enforcement efforts at federal and state levels over the past nine months.  The change coincides with the rejection of the comprehensive immigration bill considered by Congress and abandoned last July.  The CIS contends that this created a disincentive that pushed almost a million illegals back across the border:

A report released yesterday by a Washington think tank that advocates stricter limits on immigration says the number of illegal immigrants in the country appears to have declined significantly over the past year, at least partly because of the chilling effect of stepped-up enforcement.

The study by the Center for Immigration Studies based its findings on census data that indicate that the number of less-educated, working-age Hispanic immigrants, defined as 18-to-40-year-olds with a high school diploma or less, has dropped by more than 10 percent, or about 830,000 people, since last August.

Previous research suggests that a large share of less-educated foreigners is in the country illegally and that it makes up the bulk of the illegal immigrant population. Furthermore, although earlier declines in the number of these Hispanic immigrants have been linked to a rise in their unemployment rate, the current drop-off began last year almost immediately after Congress abandoned legislation to legalize undocumented immigrants and six months before any significant rise in their unemployment rate had occurred.

During the same period, the number of foreigners who were more educated or non-Hispanic, and therefore far less likely to be illegal immigrants, continued to rise or hold steady.

“Chilling effect” of enforcement?  It should be the normalizing effect of enforcement.  The government should have been taking these steps all along.  Had they done so, the issue would not have been anywhere near as acute as it currently is, and we could be already dealing with temporary worker systems or other options for labor in the agricultural industry, at least.

The methodology has created some controversy among researchers, however.  The CIS uses an indirect method of calculating the number of illegal immigrants based on a particular demographic ratio, which assumes that ratio remains constant.  Critics don’t reject the method entirely, but note that its assumption could prove incorrect, and that would result in significantly different numbers than CIS reaches.

Still, other data indicates that they have this diagnosed properly.   The Border Patrol reported a 20% decrease in apprehensions during this period despite enhanced resources, indicating a decrease in border crossings.  States like Arizona that have instituted tough sanctions against employers who either knowingly hire or fail to use eVerify to reject illegal workers have seen population decreases in areas where illegal immigrants live.

More study needs to be done, but the data thus far shows that enforcement works, especially at the strongest magnet for illegal immigration: employment.  The CIS researchers think that enforcement alone, even without tougher border security, could cut the number of illegal immigrants in half over the next five years.  With a stronger border and even better scrutiny, that pace could accelerate even further.


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Enforcement is CRITICAL in all areas. Once the businesses are held responsible, hiring illegals will shrink.

Letting it be known that our police will enforce immigration laws will help the illegal population shrink quicker.

Arizona has it right. GO JOE ARPAIO

originalpechanga on July 31, 2008 at 11:29 AM

If you come here legally, you are welcome.
If you break the law and enter this country illegally, find work and take jobs away from Americans you should get sent back to your own country or go to jail and then get sent back.

What is the problem with this since every other nation in the world employs this policy.?

Hening on July 31, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Of course, I ALSO believe that we should fix our damn immigration system. WE NEED these workers here and it shouldn’t take 10 years to get papers.

We should CHARGE $4,000 for expedited paperwork at the borders. That way, COYOTES don’t make that money bringing them across. And we should charge more for money orders and postage to Mexico and points south.

originalpechanga on July 31, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Having a cop on the corner has a “chiling effect” on bank robberies, too.

Cicero43 on July 31, 2008 at 11:31 AM

For years our “leaders” have been trying to convince us that enforcement wouldn’t work or would be impractical. What they didn’t tell us is that since they hadn’t actually tried it, they didn’t really know.

backwoods conservative on July 31, 2008 at 11:32 AM

What a surprise, migrants can move themselves when they are so inclined. Who would’a thunk it? Now, if only this silly, and incorrect, term ‘illegal immigrant’ can be made to leave also. They are either migrant workers or illegal aliens, but they are definitely not illegal immigrants.

progressoverpeace on July 31, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Waiting for the Soros funded study claiming the illgals are being tortured and forced out of the country by Jewish neo-cons.

mylegsareswollen on July 31, 2008 at 11:32 AM

I would love to know how much the number of applications for legal immigration has grown.

Legal immigrants: WELCOME!

RushBaby on July 31, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Good riddance! Now just keep your fingers crossed that the next administration doesn’t try to enact “comprehensive” reform which would undermine current efforts. Aho knows how many illegals are staying here in anticipation of a more friendly administration. The Dems will do anything to increase their clients/voters.

DerKrieger on July 31, 2008 at 11:33 AM

The CIS contends that this created a disincentive that pushed almost a million illegals back across the border

No no no, they’ve just vanished ‘into the shadows’.

… the current drop-off began last year almost immediately after Congress abandoned legislation to legalize undocumented immigrants …

Coincidence, of course.

The Border Patrol reported a 20% decrease in apprehensions during this period …

This is great news, but how much of this 20% is because of the fear that they (the B.P. Agents) might end up like Ramos and Compean?

Tony737 on July 31, 2008 at 11:35 AM

Excellent, keep it up!

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 11:35 AM

standing ovation!

becki51758 on July 31, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Legal immigrants: WELCOME! – RushBaby

Damn right!

Illegal aliens – buh-bye.

Lefty troll:

“But, but, there’s no such thing as an illegal human being!”

Tony737 on July 31, 2008 at 11:39 AM

We do not need additional immigrants for seasonal work. We need a guest worker program. I don’t believe that the majority of illegals have any desire to become US citizens. They simply want to work, put some money away, and go home. Our current system makes it imposible for them to move freely back and forth so the result is that they stay here and bring their families with them. A sensible guest worker policy would keep more Mexicans in Mexico.

DerKrieger on July 31, 2008 at 11:40 AM

I’m not convinced on the whole thing….

wildweasel on July 31, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Juan Hernandez says “Have a heart!”

Juan-er-John McCain says “I never supported amnesty!”

MadisonConservative on July 31, 2008 at 11:42 AM

Our current system makes it imposible for them to move freely back and forth so the result is that they stay here and bring their families with them.

DerKrieger on July 31, 2008 at 11:40 AM

They used to be allowed to move freely – hence the migrant farmers we all learned about in grade school and why there was never a wall on our southern border. But they massively abused our generosity, started taking other jobs and staying here, and changed their title to ‘illegal immigrants’ to make themselves sound more acceptable, so now they all have to go and Mexico has to start answering for encouraging an invasion of our soil.

progressoverpeace on July 31, 2008 at 11:47 AM

I sorta think this is what the American public was saying, most forcefully, when this whole bill was trying to be shoved in the middle of the night down our throats.

dustoffmom on July 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Good riddance.

Legal immigrants: WELCOME!

RushBaby on July 31, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Right on. Why can’t the fools like John McCain and Obama understand that rewarding illegal activity is the worst thing to do? Or do thay but they just can’t help pandering.

saiga on July 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

I sorta think this is what the American public was saying, most forcefully, when this whole bill was trying to be shoved in the middle of the night down our throats.

dustoffmom on July 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Thank God there is still a small portion of the electorate that has some common sense. But don’t worry, the trough sloppers will soon outnumber productive people once welfare Obama gets elected.

Victims rejoice!!! Flunkies will be getting a bigger check!!!!! Success will be punished!!!!!!!!It’s the flunkie way!!!Loosers win!!!!!!

Our race to third world status will be nearly complete.

saiga on July 31, 2008 at 11:55 AM

I don’t know why ya’ll are geting so riled up.

Enforcement doesn’t work.

John McCain said so.

catmman on July 31, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Close the border, apply the laws, after those two simple things. Re-evaluate the immigration problem, it won’t be as bad as you think.
The ones (the few) that have established themselves, paid taxes, been responsible, we have time to figure out what to do with them.
Close the border, enforce the laws…then we can deal case to case with the others.

right2bright on July 31, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Why can’t the fools like John McCain and Obama understand that rewarding illegal activity is the worst thing to do? Or do thay but they just can’t help pandering.

saiga on July 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Because people of their philosophy don’t see it the way you and I do.

They aren’t “rewarding illegal behavior” as you put it – they are simply “assisting the downtrodden” or “insert liberal platitide here.”

catmman on July 31, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Enforcement doesn’t work. John McCain said so.
catmman on July 31, 2008 at 11:58 AM

When did he say that? Perhaps you could provide a link to when McCain mentioned this?

Thanks.

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Furthermore, although earlier declines in the number of these Hispanic immigrants have been linked to a rise in their unemployment rate, the current drop-off began last year almost immediately after Congress abandoned legislation to legalize undocumented immigrants and six months before any significant rise in their unemployment rate had occurred.

And no mention of my favorite topic, Operation Streamline. Which, you know, works. And has been expanded twice. And is working.

MamaAJ on July 31, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Ed,

This is just another data point to show the economy is in trouble. the home construction sector is in the worst shape since the 1930′s. Many illegals can not find work and are leaving the country.

enforcement has something to do with it I’m sure but the economic incentive that is no longer there also plays a part. Just like we had historice illegal immigration during the boom times it stands to reason the immigrants esp the illegals that came for work would self deport when the jobs are no longer there.

unseen on July 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

http://www.nationalledger.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=13&num=13814

On June 2, McCain rolled out his fear-based defense of amnesty on the campaign trail in Le Mars, Iowa. Responding to a question about deportation of illegal aliens, McCain delivered the following dilly: “In case you hadn’t noticed, the thousands of people who have been relegated to ghettos have risen up and burned cars in France,” McCain said. “They’ve got huge problems in France. They have tremendous problems. The police can’t even go into certain areas in the suburbs of Paris. I don’t want that in the suburbs of America.”

MadisonConservative on July 31, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Good News, now cut off all funding to “Sancturary Cities“…….

Seven Percent Solution on July 31, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Saw another indicator listed in the paper today – money sent from the US to Mexico is down 2.2% (IIRC)

KCSteve on July 31, 2008 at 12:25 PM

How is ACORN going to meet it’s quota for illegal voters when their population is declining.
.
Oh the humanity!!

Right_of_Attila on July 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM

If they are here illegally, they are illegal aliens. Immigrants go through the proper legal channels.

infidel on July 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM

unseen on July 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

I agree wholeheartedly.

mimi1220 on July 31, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Arizona seems to have started something. Wow! If you enforce the immigration laws illegal immigrants will leave. What a novel concept. So much for the D.C. mantra that ‘we can’t deport them all’. No we can’t. But we sure as hell can make getting a job impossible and forcing them to leave on their own.

GarandFan on July 31, 2008 at 12:48 PM

I think the key point to take away from self-deportations is that those illegals who stay here do so intentionally and willfully, while knowing that they are not welcome and that their very presence is tearing this country apart. this goes to those who support them or their legalization, too.

progressoverpeace on July 31, 2008 at 12:50 PM

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 12:05 PM

I was being a bit tongue in cheek with what I said.

McCain has said “enforcement only” legislation won’t work. (Here’s a link to other stuff as well)

He has said he “supports the enforcement of every law on the books in the United States of America”, and then sponsors and lobbies for “comprehensive immigration reform” – which effectively negates those same laws on the books in the United States of America.

He was against the border fence before he was against it. Remember his “if they want it I’ll build the GD thing?” A law (building the fence) which is on the books BTW – which McCain continues to NOT lobby to enforce.

McCain was not for border enforcement until he needed to be in the primaries.

He says border enforcement is a Federal problem, and that he will act in a Federal capacity on border enforcement if he’s elected, then says he will let the States certify the borders are secure.

Just as Obama didn’t come right out and call McCain a racist, his recent comments blogged about on this very site effectively mean the same thing.

McCain can say he wants to “enforce the border” but gives few specifics and wants to focus more on guest worker and other stuff. He doesn’t want to aleniante (heh) “hispanics”. Just listen to his rhetoric. Every time he makes the mention, he says his three words “enforce the border” then moves on to calling illegals “God’s children”, etc.

McCain is not going to win any converts on immigration and when studies like this come out, it makes his stance harder to defend.

catmman on July 31, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Hey, what do you know? Enforcement works!

Who would’a thunk it.

Johan Klaus on July 31, 2008 at 12:51 PM

REALLY? Enforcement works?? Don’t that beat all!! Who’da thunk it??

grumpy_old_soldier on July 31, 2008 at 12:52 PM

He was against the border fence before he was against for it.

My bad…

catmman on July 31, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Most of the “enforcement” has been in a few show-trial raids. They are going back home due to the soft economy.

Nonetheless, McCain is likely to say enforcement measures have worked and it is time for comprehensive immigration reform even though the border remains wide open.

The illegal immigration rate still remains out of control and unacceptable.

Valiant on July 31, 2008 at 12:55 PM

McCain is not going to win any converts on immigration and when studies like this come out, it makes his stance harder to defend.
catmman on July 31, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Excellent reply to my question, thank you.

And no, he’s not going to win any converts. His positions on illegal immigration is horrendous. But when I looked for information regarding his position on enforcement, I didn’t see anything to suggest that he is against enforcement, or in favor of sanctuary cities, or anything of the sort, as democrats have absolutely owned this position.

Just to make things clear. Again, I appreciate your reply.

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 1:01 PM

How is ACORN going to meet it’s quota for illegal voters when their population is declining.
.
Oh the humanity!!

Right_of_Attila on July 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Acorn will still have their voter cards and believe me, those who went home to Mexico, they will still vote in the November elections.

WoosterOh on July 31, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Valiant on July 31, 2008 at 12:55 PM

Good points!

catmman on July 31, 2008 at 1:20 PM

MadisonConservative on July 31, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Oh, the irony. The rioters in France were not illegal aliens. They were Muslim citizens of France, many of them second-generation, who had failed/refused to assimilate into French culture. They were rioting because the French government was proposing cuts in some of the many benefits that socialist system provides to its citizens.

You see McCain, that’s what happens to a country that allows itself to be overrun by too many immigrants from cultures that don’t particularly like or respect the culture of the country into which they’re immigrating. They become a dangerous sub-culture in the host nation, living apart, speaking their own language, refusing to abide by the laws and customs of the rest of the nation. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Think about that, McCain, the next time you see millions of Mexican illegals marching in our streets, waving their Mexican flags, and screaming into microphones (in Spanish) about their “right” to live in our country — regardless of our laws.

We may very well end up like France, but if we do it will be because people like you, McCain, failed to learn the lessons that the French rioting should have taught us.

AZCoyote on July 31, 2008 at 1:25 PM

Ed,

This is just another data point to show the economy is in trouble. the home construction sector is in the worst shape since the 1930’s. Many illegals can not find work and are leaving the country.

enforcement has something to do with it I’m sure but the economic incentive that is no longer there also plays a part. Just like we had historic illegal immigration during the boom times it stands to reason the immigrants esp the illegals that came for work would self deport when the jobs are no longer there.

unseen on July 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

I’ll bet that you score very well on peripheral vision tests.

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 1:36 PM

Now wait just a second. This is some kind of hoax or something. Because JetBoy said enforcement doesn’t work!

———————-

And no, McCain has never said “I don’t want to enforce the immigration laws,” or “I approve of sanctuary cities.”

He only voted to let illegals have Social Security. That wouldn’t have attracted any more illegals to America, huh?

He only sponsored an atrocious piece of crap with Kennedy that was a slap in the face of everybody in America illegally, and tried to ram it through Congress as secretly as possible, and cursed his opponents over it. No, not his Democrat opponents, his Republican ones.

He only wants to give illegals a better deal than, you know, Americans.

misterpeasea on July 31, 2008 at 1:44 PM

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 1:36 PM

And here I thought unseen was being sarcastic.

These two articles mention specifically that the tide started turning before we plunged into the second Great Depression.

misterpeasea on July 31, 2008 at 1:48 PM

And here I thought unseen was being sarcastic.

misterpeasea on July 31, 2008 at 1:48 PM

No, I don’t think so. The froth started coming of the construction industry quite some time ago now.

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 1:53 PM

coming of coming off

MB4 on July 31, 2008 at 1:54 PM

misterpeasea on July 31, 2008 at 1:44 PM

And here is an example of an idiotic reply to that same question.

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 2:08 PM

An excellent FP blog entry on this very subject talks about Eisenhower’s solution to the immigration mess that he inherited.

http://forgottenprophets.blogspot.com/2006/07/i-had-no-idea.html

MechEng5by5 on July 31, 2008 at 2:31 PM

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Man oh man, _man. You’re more fun that a barrel of angry cheerleading monkeys.

Maybe you could point out the difference between catmman’s “excellent reply” and my “idiotic reply.”

Because they kinda sorta look vaguely similar: no, McCain has never come out and said “I’m for open borders,” he just sponsors legislation and votes that way.

misterpeasea on July 31, 2008 at 2:47 PM

Hey! We need to keep these reports showing attrition through enforcement hush-hush. No more!

It is totally screwing up the straight talk express rhetoric about how impossible it is (for heartless racist conservatives) to round them up and deport ALL 20 million illegals.

How are we ever going to get McCain elected and shamnesty forced through with all the reports that prove McCain wrong?

nottakingsides on July 31, 2008 at 3:24 PM

Speaking anecdotally, we’ve seen a significant number of illegals this past year head back home from here in liberal W. Oregon.

My wife’s business comes into contact with lots Hispanic areas and sees it first hand. She puts the figure about 10% self-deportation and it seems to be accelerating. Can’t say if it’s increased enforcement that’s causing it. I believe a lot of it has to do with the drop in new housing construction. Practically every construction crew this side of the Cascades is mostly Hispanic illegals.

Catfish on July 31, 2008 at 4:03 PM

Maybe you could point out the difference between catmman’s “excellent reply” and my “idiotic reply.”

It’s pretty obvious. You need to read them both again, and then it should come perfectly clear.

Or in your case, try reading them both about a dozen times. And maybe then.

wise_man on July 31, 2008 at 6:32 PM

I call them illegal invaders. And all these laws and enforcement in other states are driving some of them to Texas and Houston where we already have enough. Sanctuary.

atxcowgirl on July 31, 2008 at 8:07 PM

Pardon me if I don’t believe a word of these reports. I think we are being “led” to believe that the border issues are being solved by “enforcement” when we all know that Bush (I love Mexico First) and his lacky Chernoff are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. That is why we are seeing these “enforcement raids” with all the wrenching press about pulling women away from their babies. They are hoping US citizens will see these “raids” as inhumane and demand they stop. And where are the border fences being extended? Maybe I’m just jaded, but I can’t believe Bush would allow all of these wonderful Mexican citizens to leave the USA. Something just doesn’t ring true. It doesn’t take 2-3 years to target illegal aliens working in a meat packing plant. Something stinketh!

Neocon Peg on July 31, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Now if we can get the H1-B scam under control we’ll be all set.

dogsoldier on July 31, 2008 at 9:06 PM