“The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to an standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants-most of whom came illegally-the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed, according to a new analysis of government data from both countries by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.”
That’s how the report begins. What great news, the illegal alien spigot from our friendly neighbor to the south has been turned off, apparently, right? Well, before we get giddy with excitement over this edition of The World According to Pew, let’s delve a bit deeper to see what lies beneath the surface.
Unprecedented levels and unprecedented aliens
First, how about some interesting data gleaned from the report? According to Pew, the United States has more immigrants from Mexico alone, the previously referenced 12 million, than any country in the world has from all countries of the world! Not wishing for such an eye popping stat to be used for mere Mexican bashing, Pew was quick to point out that previous waves of Irish and German immigrants in the late 19th century were equal to or exceeded this wave of Mexican immigration, when considered as a share of the immigrant population at the time. Pew then dutifully goes on to point out the most distinctive feature of the Mexican immigration wave (other than its size) as being the unprecedented share who have come here illegally, some 51% of all Mexican immigrants and 58% of all aliens. Although they felt it necessary to compare the modern Mexican wave to past waves of European immigration, they did not feel it necessary to compare the approximate percentage of illegal aliens in each group, even while noting the unprecedented level of illegal entry to our country by Mexicans.
To drive the point home, Pew points out the population of Mexican-born residents in the United States is larger than most states or countries, with one in ten Mexican-born people worldwide residing here. A 2010 report listed our total immigrant population as 38.5 million, and the Mexican born portion of that being just shy of 30%, or approximately 11.5 million. That number is about equal to the population of Ohio, and greater than 43 of our 50 states. Only California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania have populations greater than 12 million. If you haven’t yet wrapped your mind around that number, 11.5 million is approximately one tenth of Mexico’s entire population, and greater than that of 170 of the world’s 243 countries! In other words, they are essentially a country within a country.
So, based on Pew’s report, which is based on government data from both Mexico and the United States, we know there are a lot of Mexican born people in the states. And, based on the same information, it’s not a stretch to assume the next time you interact with two Mexicans, at least one of them is here illegally, statistically speaking.
Best taken with a grain of salt?
Pew cites the following factors for their claim of a standstill in Mexican immigration; the weakened job and housing market in the United States, better economic conditions in Mexico, recent heightened border enforcement, an increase in deportations, growing danger in crossing the border illegally and a long term decline in Mexico’s birth rate.
All of these points may be valid but the danger in accepting any or all as evidence the alien problem is under control is the changing nature of each. It’s not a stretch to suggest illegal immigration to our country could increase along with a strengthening job market, worsening economic (and other) conditions in Mexico, relaxed border security and decreases in deportations, decreased danger or cost in crossing the border illegally, or a sustained spike in Mexico’s birth rate.
Crunching more numbers
In the five year period from 2005-2010, Pew states 1.4 million Mexicans migrated to the United States. That number is less than half the 3 million who came here in the same time span from 1995-2010. Moreover, in the most recent 5 year period, the number of Mexicans returning to their home from the U.S. Climbed to 1.4 million, which is roughly double the number from a decade ago. Hence the conclusion that Mexican immigration is at a standstill; 1.4 mill minus 1.4 mill equals zero.
The best news reported by Pew pertains to the legal immigrant flow from Mexico, which rose from 5.6 to 5.8 million from 2007-2011. To these two hundred thousand we say thank you, and welcome!
Whether here legally or not, those of Mexican heritage are not likely to feel alone, as the total Mexican-American population (immigrants and U.S. born residents of Mexican ancestry) continues to rise, up to 33 million in 2010. This is due in large part to the fact that births surpassed immigration as the number one source of growth among not only the Mexican-American population but the Hispanic population at large.
The devil’s in the details
Other interesting information is offered up in the recent report and some of it is sure to be embraced by the OREC (Obama Re-Election Committee). For instance, Pew states border apprehensions of Mexicans attempting to enter our country illegally have dropped substantially from over 1 million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011, suggesting the decrease is an indication (not proof) that fewer aliens are trying to cross the border due to increased numbers of U.S. Border Patrol agents. Of course, Pew also notes the current level of border apprehensions is the lowest since 1971.
But wait, there’s more for OREC! According to Pew, even as border apprehensions have fallen, deportations (and expedited removal processes) of Mexican aliens have risen to record levels, some 282,000 in 2010.
For those of you who aren’t convinced the alien problem is under control, which should be all of you, consider the following. Pew reports a whopping 13% increase since 2005 in the number of aliens sent home who say they won’t try to re-enter the U.S. again. That’s right, a full 20% at least claim to have learned their lesson. Wow! At least it’s not likely OREC will use that stat, for it still indicates the intent to re-enter our country of 8 out of every 10 deportees.
Some data is hard to spin
While the overall content of the recent Pew report seems to support claims made by members of Obama’s administration that the border is more secure than ever, a few tidbits of information thrown in at the end would be hard to spin. For instance, an ever increasing percentage of aliens sent packing were found to have been in the U.S. for at least one year, up to 27% in 2010 from only 6% in 2005. This would certainly suggest the increasing ease with which our illegal aliens hide in plain sight.
Pew also reports that Mexican-born immigrants are less than the cream of the crop compared to other immigrant groups, tending to be younger, poorer, less educated and less likely to be fluent in English. Most troubling, they are less likely to assimilate. In other words, they are less likely to become American in every sense of the word. And why should they? The sheer volume of Spanish speaking people in the country virtually guarantees they’ll have little need to learn our language or customs. Government and business enterprises actually discourage assimilation by offering more and more services in Spanish (language services, signage, interpreters, etc.). Even well intentioned church leadership, bamboozled by a false interpretation of love and acceptance, does little to encourage assimilation, even when they know the target of their Spanish brethren’s evangelistic attempts will be (largely) illegal aliens. Of course, children of immigrants and aliens alike no longer need to quickly learn our language due to the proliferation of ESL courses, yet another tab picked up by the tax payer.
In the end, we can’t blame Pew, can we? After all, they’re only compiling statistics, even if the way they present their findings seems slanted. It would be good to remember what Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
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