Good news: Illegal immigration declines to only several hundred thousand per year

It really is good news, but I’m seeing people linking/tweeting it as evidence that the great wingnut noise machine has once again hyped an issue that practically doesn’t. even. exist. Simple question: Notwithstanding the fact that deportations are way up under Obama’s administration, does anyone seriously expect the trend in lower illegal immigration to continue if/when the economy finally comes back? Illegals are no more recession-proof than anyone else; if the jobs ain’t here (especially construction jobs), there’s less reason to come. When the jobs return, so will they.

Note the hard numbers, too. We’re talking about the difference between absorbing a population the size of South Dakota’s and a population that’s “only” half the size of Wyoming’s each and every year. It’s an improvement, but I dare say that border isn’t secure just yet.

Between 2000 and 2005, an average of 850,000 people a year entered the United States without authorization, according to the report released Wednesday. As the economy plunged into recession between 2007 and 2009, that number fell to 300,000…

The unemployment rate for unauthorized immigrants is 10.4 percent higher than that of either U.S.-born residents or legal immigrants, the Pew report said.

Massey said other likely reasons for the decline include an increase in law enforcement and deportations, and enactment of stricter legislation against illegal immigrants. He also pointed to more guest-worker spots, from 104,000 in 2000 to 302,000 in 2009 — allowing more immigrants to come to the United States legally…

The report’s findings were hailed by Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates tighter immigration controls.

The figures contradict “the idea that the only options before us are mass expulsions or mass amnesty,” he said. “This finding points to the middle way, of a consistent decrease of the illegal population over time through enforcement.”

Does it, though? Despite the worst economic climate in 75 years, the Times notes that the total population of illegals is actually amazingly stable — down just eight percent since 2007 despite the gruesome hiring situation nationwide. Ratcheting up penalties on employers for hiring illegals can drive that number higher, but if we can’t police the border well enough to stop an inflow of slightly less than a thousand people per day, how likely is it that we’ll ever police businesses comprehensively enough to make a major dent in that number? Just another reason to expect some sort of amnesty deal before Election 2012. It’s coming. I can feel it.