Legal Immigration Has Gone Up While Illegal Has Gone Way Down

Dallas Morning News contributor David J. Bier has an interesting article on legal vs illegal immigration at the southern border, but does miss something when he eventually takes a few shots at President Trump

Legal immigration has soared as illegal entries have dwindled

Here’s the paradox of immigration in America right now: The economy is roaring, and wages are rising, yet 2017 was another year of virtually no illegal border crossings. On average, each Border Patrol agent apprehended just 16 people all year — one every three weeks, tied for the lowest rate since World War II. This is down from when Border Patrol agents apprehended an average of 261 crossers per agent in 1996.

Where have the illegal crossers gone? Newly released statistics from the Department of State give a plausible answer: They haven’t disappeared; they’ve become legal.

The 16 apprehensions per agent in the entire year was significantly fewer than the 21 apprehensions that each agent was making in a month throughout the 1990s. This figure actually overstates the agency’s current workload because so many of today’s “apprehensions” are, in fact, asylum seekers, families and unaccompanied children who turn themselves in to the agents. (snip)

From 1996 to 2017, the number of temporary visas issued to seasonal workers on farms and other industries increased tenfold, from 23,204 to 236,695. Even while Congress has done little on other immigration issues, seasonal worker programs have gradually expanded.

Entries using these visas have increased twice as fast as the number of legal documents issued themselves, meaning that each worker is crossing back and forth legally in a way that was much less common in 1996. This is partly because an increasing share of the visas are going to Mexican workers who can easily criss-cross the border. In 1996, Mexicans made just 60 percent of all border crossing entries. In 2016, that figure was 90 percent.

Of course, these aren’t actually legal immigrants: they’re temporary workers. A person who comes to the U.S. for a two week visit, be it for work or vacation, isn’t an immigrant, either. Regardless, most of us have no problem with these temporary work visas, not when they are willing to do the work. It becomes a problem when they overstay those visa, which has increasingly become a problem, hence the reason ICE, as directed by President Trump, is focusing hard on interior immigration enforcement.

Of course, it seems we shouldn’t even bother with border security in Bier’s world

While Border Patrol has tripled its manpower and constructed a system of more than 600 miles of fences and barriers during this period, increased security is not the primary explanation for the reduction in illegal immigration. We know this because it hasn’t actually worked very well.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the agency caught only half of the people who actually attempted to evade entry in 2014 and 2015 (i.e., not the asylum seekers or children). The best estimate by Princeton University’s Douglas Massey finds that in the 1990s, 95 percent or more border crossers eventually made it across after multiple attempts. All of the increased enforcement decreased the success rate only to 75 percent. In other words, now that the economy has rebounded, many more people ought to be attempting to sneak into the country.

Many are not trying now, thanks to the White House pushing for implementation of the U.S. laws to rid the nation of illegal aliens, for which the leftist media was very helpful in constantly posting breathless articles about how scary this is for illegals, how doomy. Which helped reduce the flow. And Trump allowing ICE, the Border Patrol, and other law enforcement to do their jobs helps.

Instead, potential undocumented border crossers have found their way into the legal system. As the number entering legally has increased, the Border Patrol’s job has become much easier. They have effectively gained control over the border for the first time since the early 1960s, with guest worker programs an important factor. America has two guest worker programs for seasonal laborers, the H-2A for agriculture and the H-2B for other industries, both created in 1986.

Wait, I thought border patrol didn’t work? No? Under Obama, things were rather different, with illegals streaming across the border. That has dipped immensely under Trump.

While anti-immigrant groups on the right and union-founded groups on the left have fought the H-2 trends, a coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans has defended the programs, citing solid evidence that they don’t displace U.S. workers and do increase economic growth. Trump’s businesses use both programs, and he defended the practice in a GOP primary debate in 2016.

The trends paint a compelling picture of what would happen if the administration does limit the flow: a lot more illegal immigration.

But, Trump isn’t recommending a reduction in these visas. This is conflating a reduction in actual immigrants looking for citizenship to those who actually bring something to the table, rather than bringing in lots who have few work skill. This is the way most of the 1st World countries do it.

And this is why we can’t have an adult conversation on the subjects, because Leftists always muddy the waters.

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5 Responses to “Legal Immigration Has Gone Up While Illegal Has Gone Way Down”

  1. Jeffery says:

    The TEACH typed, risibly:

    And this is why we can’t have an adult conversation on the subjects, because Leftists always muddy the waters.

    LOL. Who would type such a statement in tRumpworld. LOL.

    Who said it?

    “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing,”

    — DJ tRump (Aug 2016)

    It’s easy, stop illegal border crossings, deport (or imprison) the violent offenders, negotiate a fair arrangement with the illegal workers.

  2. Jl says:

    Yes, and a fair arrangement would be sending them back.

    • Jeffery says:

      That’s not what Ronald Reagan thought.

      • Hoss says:

        Reagan was promised stronger immigration enforcement by the democrats. He got fooled by sentimentality and for believing the democrats. That won’t happen again.

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