Half A Loaf On Labor Day 2009: With Jobs Down, Illegals Are Leaving
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Immigration reform patriots have finally gotten what we have for years longed for.

By all accounts, aliens living illegally in the U.S. are returning home while would-be aliens have chosen to stay put in their native country.

But the trend represents only a partial triumph because the U.S. legal immigrant population remains stable.

Still, half a loaf is better than none!

In its July 2009 report A Shifting Tide: Recent Trends in the Illegal Immigrant, the Center for Immigration Studies analysts Steven Camarota and Karen Jensenius found that because of a combination of interior enforcement and a recession that eliminated the jobs magnet:

  • The illegal population declined 13.7 percent (1.7 million) from a peak of 12.5 million in the summer of 2007 to 10.8 million in the first quarter of 2009.

  • The number of new illegal immigrants arriving has fallen by about one-third in the last two years compared to earlier in this decade.

  • The number of illegal immigrants returning has more than doubled in the last two years compared to earlier in this decade.

  • Another indication that enforcement has played a role in the decline is that the illegal immigrant population began falling before there was a significant rise in their unemployment rate.

  • Unemployment among illegal immigrants has increased dramatically and plays a significant role in reducing their numbers.

  • The illegal population rose in the summer of 2007, the period when Congress was considering an amnesty to legalizing illegal immigrants. When that legislation failed to pass, the illegal population quickly fell dramatically. [A Shifting Tide: Recent Trends in the Illegal Immigrant Population, Center for Immigration Studies, July 2009]

The CIS conclusions validate what we at VDARE.COM have been saying all along: if the U.S. eliminates the job pull factor and at the same time vigorously applies interior enforcement efforts, then a large part of the illegal alien invasion ends.

We have also insisted that amnesty—even the hint of it—generates more illegal immigration.

Unfortunately, much of the alien job loss has not been related to enforcement but the severe economic recession.

But when good times return, the same results (blocking aliens from the job market) can be achieved by implementing E-Verify as well as imposing serious fines that include lengthy jail sentences and hefty fines for employers who continue to break federal immigration laws.

By returning home, illegal immigrants shatter another long-standing myth.

For years, immigration enthusiasts have argued that, once aliens arrive in America, they immediately put down roots that within short time anchor them to the U.S. and make it impossible for them to leave.

Furthermore, the immigration enthusiasts insist that, when aliens are forced to return home either voluntarily because of job loss or involuntarily by deportation, cruel and unusual punishment is inflicted upon them.

I counter that going home is the best thing that can happen to them.

Here's a CNN story that proves my point.

Pedro Pablo is an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who has worked a total of three days in the last year. When he first arrived in Los Angeles several years ago after leaving his wife and three children, Pablo found plenty of jobs.

Now that he's not been working for months and is destitute, Pablo got a bus ticket paid for by the Guatemalan consulate and left.

Jeronimo Salguero [Email him] oversees a Los Angeles day labor site and helps out at the consulate. According to Salguero, the consulate routinely buys bus tickets for Guatemalans like Pablo eager to go home.

Salguero claimed that the unemployed Guatemalans are "Completely desperate. Each day I have workers coming into the office and say: 'Geronimo, help me. I want to go back to my country.'"

Pablo was one of those men. He had lived in a one-bedroom apartment with seven other men. His "bedroom" was a corner of the living room where he kept his blanket, duffel bag and picture of his family.

Before he left, Pablo said: "I can't make it here. If I have to suffer, it's better to suffer in Guatemala with my family." [Bad Economy Forcing Immigrants to Reconsider US, by Thelma Gutierrez and Wayne Trash, CNN, February 9, 2009]

Pablo's experience begs a question about the human condition: Is a poor Guatemalan better off in Guatemala among his family and friends while living in the environment that he grew up in and with which he is comfortable—or is he better off in a foreign country where he doesn't know the language, doesn't have a car and cannot adopt to the culture?

The answer is clear. Even though they may make more money in America, Guatemalans (or any other nationality) are happier in their native countries.

When comparing life in Guatemala to life in the U.S., make sure that you're comparing apples to apples.

Mainstream media outlets like CNN make the mistake of projecting an American life style onto a Guatemalan immigrant.

The typical Guatemalan in the U.S. doesn't live comfortably. He doesn't own a late model car or a flat screen television. Instead, the alien most likely scrapes by in the low rent section of a major metropolitan neighborhood.

Then the alien reports to a job where he's overworked, underpaid and uninsured. His life in America is a non-stop struggle.

I've lived in Guatemala. While the country is unquestionably poor, Guatemalans reside predominantly in rural areas where, with their neighbors and families, they self-sustain.

You and I wouldn't want to live in the Guatemalan mountains. But for Guatemalans, it's what they know. 

The problem aliens create is not returning home but leaving in the first place, lured by an American dream that they can never achieve even in good times.

What's important now is to maintain the immigrant outflow trend.

Under former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff (I told you we would miss him!), work place raids increased significantly. According to the Immigration Customs and Enforcement 2008 annual report, in 2005, there were only 176 criminal arrests at work sites and 1,116 administrative arrests. By 2008, these totals grew to 1,103 criminal arrests and 5,184 administrative arrests.

But every time President Barack Obama repeats his commitment to give amnesty to illegal immigrants or his administration authorizes the release of aliens detained in worksite enforcement actions, voluntary deportations may slow.

Two encouraging signs, however:

  • The longer Obamacare is tied up in knots, the less likely an amnesty effort will come to the floor.

  • And the recent decision by the Maryland U.S. District Court that beginning September 8 all federal contractors holding contracts of more than $100,000, regardless of size will be required to use E-Verify and that subcontractors will also be subject to the rule if their portion of the contract is more than $3,000 eliminates one of Obama's stealth weapons to keep aliens employed.

Obamacare has the president on the ropes. If Obama cares about the Democrats future in the 2010 midterm elections, he'll keep a healthy distance away from amnesty while taking a higher profile to insure that Americans get the jobs they deserve.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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