Illegal immigration into U.S. drops sharply, officials say

Illegal immigration into U.S. drops sharply, officials say

Washington : DC : USA | May 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM PDT
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Cost of Illegal Immigration

Recently there have been reports that despite a directive last June 2011 by the head of Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to concentrate on the removal of illegal aliens with serious criminal records and those that represent a threat to the national security of the United States, removal actions have actually declined.

Some continue to cite agents are not doing their job; however, these reports have not taken into consideration entry into the U.S. by illegal aliens has been decreasing since 2007. The number of immigrants coming to the USA illegally since 2007 has plummeted — the first significant decline in two decades, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report from 2010 in USA Today.

The total number of illegal immigrants in the country is down from a peak of 12 million in 2007, the report says.

The annual inflow of about 300,000 illegal immigrants from 2007 to 2009 was almost two-thirds smaller than it had been from 2000 to 2005, when it reached an average 850,000 a year.

"These are very sizable drops," says Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center. "Over the last four years, they've been going down steadily."

A statistical comparison between criminal removals and administrative removals show there have been more removals for reasons other than criminal or threats to security with the assumption ICE is not focusing their efforts in the right direction. Or does the reduction reflect other factors like fewer immigrants entering the country and the overall reduction in violent crime in the U.S.?

Statistics can be used to support and manipulate many sides of the same argument, and this is a prime example. Immigration tracking data show the decline, but the reasons are skewed and not considered in combination with the total crime rate in the U.S. or the social factors deterring immigrants from entering the U.S., which for the most part is the rising unemployment and laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 that punishes the agricultural community.

If every undocumented immigrant were expelled from Arizona, it would:

  • Decrease total employment by 17.2%
  • Eliminate 581,000 jobs for immigrants and native-born workers alike
  • Shrink the state economy by $48.8 billion
  • Reduce state tax revenues by 10.1%

According to the most recent Department of Homeland Security estimates based on 2010 census data, there were 360,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona -- 200,000 fewer than at the high point in 2008. Supporters and opponents of SB 1070 generally agree that the downturn in the state's economy, among the worst of any state in the nation, was the main reason so many illegal immigrants left Arizona.

According to FBI crime rate reports on violent crime in the U.S. in 1960 the rate was 200 crimes per 100,000. In 1990 it had soared to over 750 per 100,000. In 2009 crime rate had dropped dramatically to 400 per 100,000. The obvious assumption is a reduction in violent crime represents fewer criminals being prosecuted.

The Community Wellness Project tracks societal risk factors that crime exacts on society and individuals. The financial and social costs in a community are intertwined with broader community issues such as poverty, substance use, chaotic and unhealthy family systems, child abuse and neglect, and others.

There are various factors contributing to the reduction in illegal immigrants being deported for criminal behavior, and most of the variables point toward economic and social factors rather than citing Immigrant and Customs Enforcement for not prosecuting a specific quota for deportation.


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A variety of factors have contributed to the reduction of illegal immigrants entering the U.S. since 2007.
Dava Castillo is based in Clearlake, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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