Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wall Street Journal Report on Illegal Immigrants

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal provided us with a Front Page report by Miriam Jordan entitled, "Crossings by Migrants Slow as Job Picture Dims". Her lead paragraph sets the tone by stating, "The number of illegal immigrants apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border is falling steeply, an indication that the economic downturn and
beefed-up security could be deterring unauthorized crossings."

She goes on to tell us that the U.S. Border Patrol reported on Tuesday that the number of individuals apprehended between October 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008 dropped 17% to 347,372, with particularly significant drops occurring in the Yuma, Arizona sector, where the number dropped 76%.

Jordan's report is lengthy and is full of statistics. For example, she tells us that this dramatic drop in the first half of the fiscal year could mean that the apprehensions for the full year ending September 30, 2008 could be less than the 858,638 in 2007. That would be half of the nearly 1.64 million arrests made in fiscal 2000. Stunning numbers!

The nut of her report can be captured in a quote from from Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Hoyt is quoted as saying, "The U.S.-Mexico labor market is one of the most efficient examples of the law of supply and demand. If the demand goes down in the U.S., the supply of people coming from Mexico goes down."

One measurement used in this assessment was the amount of money sent "home" by immigrants. In 2007 these "remittances" sent to Mexico and other Latin American and Caribbean countries amounted to $66.5 billion - an increase of 7% over the previous year. While the amount of money sent home increased, this is the first time in this decade that the rate of growth of remittances failed to reach double digits.

While acknowledging that there is no way to accurately measure the number of illegal immigrants coming to this country each year, officials apparently feel that tallying those apprehended can illustrate trends. Jordan quotes T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents 13,000 agents, on the issue of the cost to the illegal immigrants attempting to cross our borders. Bonner is quoted as saying, "The coyotes typically charge $2,500 per person, up from about $350 in the early 1990s in California or Texas. The cost of being smuggled has increased dramatically. People are thinking more carefully before crossing the border."


This report should be viewed as good news to those who blame all the ills in our society on the illegal immigrants among us. Those in our community who bemoan the "slums" where they purport illegal immigrants make up the majority of residents should be happy now. Those who complain about the negative impact of the children of illegal immigrants have on our schools should be happy now.

If Costa Mesa is, in fact, a haven for illegal immigrants and if the thesis of the Wall Street Journal article is valid, then we should be seeing an exodus of dark-skinned folks leaving our city for either greener pastures or back home across our southern border. I've seen no reports recently to indicate this is happening, but that doesn't mean it isn't.

So, if there is such an exodus of immigrants from those "barracks-style" apartments on the Westside and in areas in the north part of our city, will the owners capitulate and sell the buildings so they can be demolished so more upscale, single family homes can be built? If so, where will those buyers come from, considering the current condition of the real estate market? And, who will build those homes?


Will we see the pockets of loitering day laborers scattered around town - those willing workers who once used the now-defunct Job Center to find work each day - gradually disappear? What will the impact on our labor market be if these willing workers do, in fact, disappear?


In Jordan's article she tells us that, "About 60% of all unauthorized workers in the U.S. are originally from Mexico" and that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 14.4% of all Mexicans in the U.S. work in the construction industry. She says experts estimate that if the illegal workers were folded into that equation the number would be much higher. I find myself wondering how the departure of this cadre of willing, affordable workers will affect our country's ability to eventually pull itself out of what is almost certainly going to be a recession?

In a great paradox, on the same page there was an article exclaiming that the full quota for H-1B visas - those reserved for highly trained professionals, like engineers and computer programmers - was used up within a couple of days of becoming available. Industry leaders are screaming that they cannot find enough of such workers and want the quotas to be increased. Our economy is so strong that our universities cannot generate enough technical professionals to fill the need and our present immigration regulations prohibit us from importing that talent from abroad. I guess it's no wonder that companies, when faced with this dilemma, choose to export the jobs in order to remain in business. We're living in strange times, indeed.



Blogger Norma said...

Good analysis of the always liberal WSJ "news" article, although I wasn't sure by the end just where you were going. "In California, the National Academy of Sciences found, immigrant families cost each native-born household an additional $1,200 in taxes per year. . . each immigrant who is a high school dropout, as most Mexican immigrants are, will end up costing taxpayers some $85,000 over his lifetime." From The immigration solution; a better plan than today's (2008). I don't know whether a decrease in illegals will do away with your crime and slums, but it can't hurt, plus there will be more jobs for legal residents, which also can't hurt. You probably have your homegrown problems that can't be blamed on immigration which are exacerbated by illegals, so that will also be reduced.

4/19/2008 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Lingle said...

Geoff - Good, pointed questions about what this possible reduction in illegal immigration might mean for Costa Mesa. Will it be a panacea for Costa Mesa's problems, as claimed by certain self-styled "improvers"? If not, who will they blame next?

Norma - If the Wall Street Journal is "liberal", I am an astronaut.

4/20/2008 01:28:00 PM  

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