Gerald L. Nino/CBP
Immigration from Mexico to the United States has slowed down toward zero: that's the thrust of an excellent story by Damien Cave in the New York Times (complete with excellent interactive graphics). I plan to write a column on that subject, but I can't resist pointing out that I have been predicting this trend for more than two years now.
● June 7, 2009 blogpost. "There's a need on all sides to rethink immigration policy. Both advocates and opponents of comprehensive bills have based their arguments on the assumption that large-scale immigration from Latin America and parts of Asia will continue indefinitely. But what if that assumption is false? Yes, our current recession is presumably temporary. But there is at least one other reason to assume that immigration from Latin America may not resume at previous levels: birth rates in Mexico and other Latin countries fell sharply around 1990." The decline in Mexican birth rates is mentioned in the New York Times story.
"The huge Mexican migration that lasted for three decades now seems to be over."
● September 2, 2009 column. Here I cited reports from the Pew Hispanic Center (which tends to be sympathetic toward immigration) and the Center for Immigration Studies (which tends to favor immigration restrictions). "From this evidence I draw two conclusions. First, stricter enforcement-- the border fence, more Border Patrol agents, more stringent employer verification, state and local laws-- has reduced the number of illegal immigrants. Second, the recession has reduced the number of both legal and illegal immigrants. CIS explicitly and Pew implicitly conclude that immigration will rise again once the economy revives. I'm not so sure. At least some of the stricter enforcement measures will continue. And the reservoir of potential immigrants may be drying up."
● November 15, 2009 blogpost. Here I cited the sharp decline in border arrests in fiscal year 2009 and increased seizure of illegal drugs, suggesting that more illegal border crossings were being generated by illegal drug trafficking than by illegal immigrants seeking work.
● November 22, 2009 column. I noted that Arizona, the first state to require employers to use the eVerify system to check the immigration status of new hires, had a drop in foreign-born population in 2007-08, and I looked with some skepticism at Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's call for immigration legislation resembling the bills that failed to pass Congress in 2006 and 2007. I suggested instead the approach endorsed by a bipartisan panel convened by the Brookings Institution and Duke University's Kenan Institute, combining stronger enforcement measures and a switch from family-reunification-based immigration to high-skill immigration.
● July 4, 2010 column. I criticized Barack Obama's "slapdash approach" to immigration legislation and his attempt to blame Republicans, then heavily outnumbered in both houses of Congress, for its non-passage.
●May 14, 2011 column. I criticized Barack Obama's continued attempt to blame Republicans for non-passage of legislation and pointed to the Brookings-Kenan proposals as an alternative.
The demographic trend I pointed to more than two years ago--a sharp decrease in immigration for Mexico--and which is strongly confirmed by yesterday's New York Times story surely requires a rethinking of immigration policy, and by those who have been on all sides of the issue. The huge Mexican migration that lasted for three decades now seems to be over.
Michael Barone is a resident scholar at AEI.