Another confirmation that enforcement works

A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center shows a marked drop in illegal immigration into the United States.  Legal immigration outpaced illegal immigration for the first time in a decade.  The reason for the reduction?  A combination of enforcement and limited economic possibilities:

The number of illegal immigrants entering the United States each year has dropped substantially since the first half of this decade, according to a study released today by the Pew Hispanic Center. A sluggish economy and stepped up enforcement of immigration laws could be behind the decline.

The study found that the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States each year has dropped from an average of 800,000 per year between 2000 and 2004 to 500,000 per year between 2005 and 2008.

By contrast, the inflow of immigrants who are legal permanent residents has remained relatively steady at about 650,000 per year, exceeding the number of illegal immigrant arrivals for the first time in a decade.

Improving economic conditions in home countries may also have contributed to the decline.  Pew’s report stated that they could not be certain of these causes, but these changes in conditions certainly look more than coincidental.

This report provides yet more support for an enforcement policy for border control.  The Bush administration has stepped up enforcement efforts, including employer verification requirements and more investigations into illegal operations involving workers using fraudulent documentation.  The effect has been to make illegal immigration less attractive for both employers and workers, which has provided less of an incentive to cross the border.

We need more of this strategy in the future.