President Bush's pollster Matthew Dowd, who was the chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign and is now the senior adviser to the Republican National Committee, writes in a New York Times op-ed called The Mexican Evolution [August 1, 2005] that the illegal immigration problem is solving itself.
Why? Because, in effect, the world will soon run out of Mexicans. According to Dowd's crystal ball, all those Americans who are now worrying their pretty little heads about illegal immigration are in for a political come-uppance. Real Soon Now.
Are you listening, Tom Tancredo?
And as these trends become more apparent to the public, politicians running on an anti-Mexican-immigrant platform will be seen as out of step… But legislators and government agencies should spend more time and resources addressing the problems of immigrants already here and our direct security needs, and much less time on prescriptive laws aimed at stemming illegal immigration from Mexico. We should be aware of the historic transformations occurring in Mexican society so that we aren't fighting a war that is already ending.
Dowd advises us all to just lie back and enjoy illegal immigration for 20 more years, and then it will go away.
Obviously, he wants us to ignore the damage illegal immigration will do to America between now and 2025, and how much trouble all the illegals who get in between now and then will continue to wreak after 2025. (Currently, almost ten percent of all births within our borders are to illegal aliens, and who knows what that fraction will be in 2025 …)
But chances are that there will be a substantial decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico in the next 20 years, and it won't be because of civilian border patrols, laws being passed, pronouncements by politicians, or as some would like, "building a wall on the border." Instead, the cause will be demographic trends within Mexico itself, trends that have been largely ignored in the debate over immigration.
Mexico's population growth rate has dropped by more than 50 percent during the last five decades, according to the United Nations. The annual growth rate has declined from approximately 3 percent in 1960 to 1.3 percent today. And it is expected to continue to fall in the first decades of the 21st century; by 2050, the United Nations predicts, the rate will be negative. The fertility rate in Mexico has had a corresponding significant drop, from 6.9 children per woman in 1955 to 2.5 today.
The population growth rate of Mexico is now only slightly higher than that of Canada, where recent data shows it to be 1 percent. Twenty-five years ago, Mexico had a growth rate more than twice that of Canada...
Uh, Matt, allow me to remind you that a big reason Mexico's population growth rate has dropped to "only" 30 percent higher than Canada's is because of the on going massive emigration from Mexico to the U.S. Close to one-fifth of all people of Mexican descent in the world now live in the U.S.
(Also, Canada's population growth rate is fairly substantial because its Liberal government has a pedal-to-the-metal legal immigration policy in order to manufacture more Liberal voters, an analogy that Mr. Dowd should ponder before advising the Republican National Committee to open our borders even wider.)
Even despite Mexico's high emigration rate, the U.S. Census Bureau's latest official estimate is that the population in Mexico will grow from 106 million today to 148 million in 2050. That's an increment of another 42 million … not to mention the tens of millions of extra Mexicans who will be living in our country at mid-century if the current non-enforcement of the laws continues.
Why is there such a difference between the rosy picture of Mexican population growth that Dowd paints using dabs of data and the alarming picture projected by our Census Bureau? Because Dowd is conveniently ignoring what demographers call "population momentum." "A population will typically grow for 50-60 years after reaching replacement level fertility," and Mexico hasn't even reached that birthrate yet.
"Population momentum" is a little complicated to explain, but try thinking of it from a grandparent's perspective. Imagine two neighbors comparing notes on who has more grandchildren. The one who lives on the north side of the street says, "My children each have two children in their families."
The neighbor who lives on the south side of the street replies, "So do mine."
The northern neighbor says, "Then you must have four grandchildren, just like me."
The southern neighbor laughs, "No, I have eight grandchildren! See, you only had two children, so you have four grandchildren. But I had four children, so I have eight grandchildren."
In America, the white total fertility rate (babies per woman lifetime) dropped below the replacement rate of 2.1 by 1972, over three decades ago, so the white population has almost stabilized by now. In Mexico, however, the total fertility rate was 6.82 in 1970, 5.30 in 1980 and 3.61 in 1990, so there are a whole lot of Mexican women between ages 15 and 35 who are still having children. Even if they only have the replacement rate each, the total Mexican population will continue to rise for decades.
Dowd's commitment to telling us only the cold-hard facts can be judged from this gem in his op-ed:
Studies have shown that as the population growth rate in countries worldwide slows, migration drops. This is especially true for an expanding economy like Mexico - in one telling statistic, youth unemployment there dropped to 4.1 percent in 2001 from 9.6 percent in 1995.
Sure, Matt, there's no statistic in the world more trustworthy than the Mexican government's youth unemployment rate from four years ago! In contrast to Dowd's credulity, the CIA World Factbook can't force itself to report the Mexican government's official overall unemployment figure with a straight face, feeling the need to add its own scientific wild-ass guess to the absurdly low official number:
"Mexico: 3.2% plus underemployment of perhaps 25% (2004 est.)"
Anyway, if Mexican population growth is decelerating so fast and the "expanding" Mexican economy is providing employment for 96 percent of all Mexican youths, Matt, then how come migration from Mexico hasn't been slowing down like those "studies" of yours say it should?
A reader comments:
"Dowd's own data runs in the opposite direction of his theory. When the Mexican birth rate was so much higher in 1960 we got far less immigration (illegal & otherwise) from Mexico. The Mexican birth rate continues to fall yet emigration continues to rise… Kind of a problem for a theory when your numbers run 180 degrees in the opposite direction."
Well, yes - but it's only a problem if you think of a "theory" as an aid in making more correct predications about the real world. In contrast, establishment Republicans (along with postmodern feminist literary critics, real estate salesmen and so many others these days) conceive of a "theory" merely as something that makes you feel better ... temporarily.
The unfortunate truth is that Mexico has not been closing the prosperity gap with America. The OECD reports, with bureaucratic understatement, "Convergence in GDP per capita is a long way off." Back in 1970, Mexico's per capita GDP was 29 percent of America's. At the peak of the Mexican oil boom in 1980, it was 36 percent. Today, however, it is only 25 percent.
That's because "annual growth in GDP per capita is stagnating" in Mexico, according to the OECD, rising an average of only 0.1 percent per year over 1994-2003. A major reason for Mexico's poverty, argues the OECD, is the lack of focus on education by the government and people: only 21 percent of Mexico's 25-34 year olds have "upper secondary educations," versus about 75 percent in the First World OECD countries.
Indeed, it appears that some people are migrating from Mexico to America in order to have more children than they could afford to have back in Mexico.
In the United States in 2003, the official total fertility rate (projected babies per lifetime) of Hispanic women was 2.8, up from 2.7 in 2002. That's higher than in Mexico. (By the way, 45% of births to Hispanic women in America were illegitimate.)
The 2003 total fertility rate for women of specifically Mexican descent in the U.S. hasn't been released yet, but it typically runs a little higher than the overall Hispanic rate. It's probably almost 3.0.
According to the federal government's National Vital Statistics Report:
"In 2003 only the total fertility rate ("TFR") for Hispanic woman exceeded the level of ''replacement'' (2,100 births per 1,000 women), the rate at which a given generation can exactly replace itself. The TFRs for the remaining groups (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, AIAN, and API women) were below replacement."
As if this deception was not enough, the Disingenuous Dowd is sidestepping the crucial fact that the Mexican border is becoming a prime conduit for "OTM" ("Other-Than-Mexico") illegal immigrants, such as the swelling number of Brazilian illegal immigrants.
As I pointed out a few weeks ago in my VDARE.com essay "The Five Billion:"
"In reality, almost five billion people (4,976 million to be precise) live in countries where the average per capita gross domestic product is lower than Mexico's mean of $9,600. (These numbers are from the CIA World Factbook, and are calculated in terms of purchasing power parity.)"
To take one example of a nation that could start sending us large numbers of illegal immigrants in the future, Nigeria currently has a population of 129 million with a GDP per capita of $1,000 annually. With Nigeria's current total fertility rate being 5.4 babies per woman, the Census Bureau projects that Nigeria's population will reach 357 million by mid-century. If they were allowed to follow the Mexican example, 70 million of them would be living here.
So, it is past time to crack down on illegal immigration, including doing what the Israel, the European Union, and India have all been doing lately: building a fence along the border to keep illegal intruders out. It is time to start thinking precisely – and honestly – about the situation.