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Pundits find big drop in illegal immigration difficult to explain

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

News publications across the state are reporting the plunge in illegal immigration here in the United States. The Washington Post takes a good look into the numbers, saying that illegal immigrants living in the United States have declined by 1 million.

This translates into a January 2009 presence of 10.8 million illegals (an 8% drop), according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, cited by the Post. The stats reflect a two year drop from the year 2007.

The Christian Science Monitor raises a critical question on the matter:  Is immigration down due to the staggering economy or stricter border patrol measures?

Many implications stem from the question, for it reflects whether state and federal agencies are actually taking steps to reduce illegal immigration. Or, it also possibly reflects the spiraling economy that the nation and this state are facing. Perhaps both situations are simultaneously taking place.

The Monitor’s report catalogues responses to the data from both sides of the debate.

Those citing the economy as a factor in curtailing illegal immigration have a pretty good case. California’s economy has been among the worst in the nation for some time now. One thing is for sure. California economy's is definitely sputtering when not only businesses are leaving the state, but also when illegal immigrants refuse to come across its porous borders.

The Monitor points out those on the more lax side of immigration debate who might use the stats to argue for a liberal immigration policy. In other words, these particular advocates might argue that illegal immigration is not really a problem at all.

There is yet a third point to throw into the immigration mix, and the Monitor serves its readers well bringing it to the surface.  That is, opportunistic politicians from both the right and left might use the data to say that they are taking a tough stance on preventing illegal immigration.

With all the different ways to analyze the situation, what should be done with these statistics? How are Californians supposed to digest them?

The Intelligencer adds some thoughtful perspective to the stats, pointing out that there is no clear indication that border security has improved significantly.  This implies that state and federal politicians really have no solid basis to take credit for effective illegal immigration reduction. As of yet, there is no direct correlation between illegal immigration reduction and stricter border security, the Intelligencer says.

Until an exhaustive study comes out testifying to such a correlation, the state’s citizens should be skeptical of their representatives’ efforts in dealing with the situation. When looking at immigration in terms how the federal government is handling it, the Intelligencer makes a good point. President Barack Obama has really done nothing to address the issue.

Not a single piece of signed legislation has come from the President’s desk on the matter since the launch of the effort by a few congressmen approximately one year ago. Is immigration reform really a priority for the current officials in charge?

Reality dictates otherwise.


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