Politics

Barone: ‘Those are only Central Americans!’

Salvadorans are people too: Michael Barone claims that the new Pew and Border Patrol data–suggesting that illegal immigration is rising again–don’t contradict his previous predictions that lower prospective illegal immigration makes amnesty workable.

His main point seems to be that the new illegals aren’t Mexicans but (in large part) Central Americans. And Central Americans don’t count? It’s true that Barone tried to carefully limit his prediction to Mexicans, and further limited it to predicting that there wouldn’t be another “massive wave”  of immigration “on the scale of that between 1982 and 2007“–which still allows for a pretty massive wave. But Barone also used his prediction to justify supporting the Senate “comprehensive” amnesty bill–and if you worry about amnesty you worry about low-skilled Central Americans as well as Mexicans.** That may be why Barone slipped, at one point, and said, more generally, “we won’t see a wave of illegals as we saw after the 1986 law.” That would seem to include Salvadorans and Nicaraguans …

Barone notes, accurately, that Mexico at 118 million people is bigger than all the Central American countries combined (which total less than half  that). But which way does that cut? You could say it means that as long as Mexican illegal immigration isn’t surging we’ve got nothing to worry about. Or you could say that even with the Mexican economy doing exceptionally well (and attracting some of those Central American illegals) we’re still experiencing an increase from the South. If Mexico–the sleeping giant!–should start sending people, perhaps because its economy isn’t immune from recession, look out. …

Remember, an equally respected survey–the Mexican Migration Project–also found that 62 % of Mexicans think the “U.S. government has no right to limit immigration,” while 52% agreed that “Mexicans have a right to be in the U.S.”

P.S.: Barone also notes “there’s a lot of walking distance” between Central America and the U.S., and Mexico doesn’t police its own southern border with the same concern for due process that it demands of us. Yet despite these obstacles Central Americans appear in fact to be making the trip, so it’s not clear what Barone’s argument is.

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**–Barone claims “Mexican immigrants, legal and illegal, have been more downscale in education and skill levels than those from any other country.” More downscale than, say, Salvadoran immigrants? Really?  Maybe his new book has the proof.