Don’t call it “self-deportation”

Mickey Kaus | Columnist

The Gran Salida is finally the Gran CW:

Old pro-amnesty line: Illegal immigrants ain’t leaving. They’re here to stay. Deal with it!

New pro-amnesty line: Illegal immigrants are leaving! No more problem! Can we reverse the policies that worked now?

A just-released Pew study seems to confer what many have suspected all along: illegal Mexican  immigrants are actually returning to their home country in large numbers. From the study’s summary:

  • In the five-year period from 2005 to 2010, … about 1.4 million Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children moved from the United States to Mexico.
  • In the five-year period a decade earlier (1995 to 2000) … fewer than 700,000 Mexicans and their U.S. born-children had moved from the U.S. to Mexico.

Hmm. It was only a year ago that Jeffrey Passel, one of the author’s of the new Pew report, was assuring us that Mexicans weren’t returning home, despite the contention of various reporters and others who had for years said that was what was happening. (See this Power Pointish Passel presentation, declaring “No evidence of increased out-flows,” “Return flows have NOT increased.”**) Did the stats for a five-year period (“new data from the 2010 Mexican census“) really change that dramatically in the past year?*** Or did something else change, like the party line  … the limits of acceptable scholarship. … sorry, it’s hard not to be paranoid here. … Pew has its defenders …. Maybe this is just an illustration of the rule that “the academics are always the last to know.”

P.S.: Why would immigration patterns have reversed between 2000 and 2010? The NYT, citing Pew, lists three oft-mentioned factors:

high unemployment in the United States, particularly in the construction industry; heightened border enforcement and increased deportations by the American authorities; and a long-term decline in birth rates in Mexico.

Fair enough. But I have a nagging feeling we’re missing something … maybe something that happened in “the last half of the decade” when Pew thinks  the return flow started … say in the period between George W. Bush’s reelection in 2005 and 2007, when the population of illegal Mexican immigrants peaked and when … wait, it’s coming back to me now … Bush’s “comprehensive” amnesty was unexpectedly and decisively defeated. … Don’t you think the MSM and Pew should at least mention the possibility that many Mexicans and others came here with the expectation that they’d gain permanent legal residence, maybe citizenship, as part of the new amnesty they’d heard so much about? When those hopes were dashed, staying here became less appealing and going home more attractive. That would hardly be an irrational calculus. But it’s independent of greater or lesser “border enforcement.” The amnesty magnet was turned off.  …


**– Emphasis removed.  In the original the italicized, capitalized “NOT” is also in red.

***–For Pew’s explanation of its doubts about one statistical source it previously used, see pages 17-18  of the report.

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