Friday, November 25, 2011

Don’t Tell Republicans, But Illegal Immigration is Down, Way Down

If They Knew It Would Just Crush Them

One of the stalwart positions of Republicans at all levels is that illegal immigration is a huge and growing problem in the United States.  In Alabama Republicans passed a draconian set of laws designed to drive legal and illegal immigrants out of the state and children out of the public schools.

ASK any Republican presidential candidate, and they will tell you without hesitation: America’s border with Mexico is as leaky as a sieve. Mitt Romney thinks all 1,969 miles (3,169km) of it must be fenced. Michele Bachmann wants a double fence. Rick Perry was pilloried for suggesting that in some rugged areas, more “aviation assets in the ground” might be better than fencing. Bemused by such talk, Barack Obama joked earlier this year that Republicans would not be happy until there was a moat full of alligators to keep illegal immigrants at bay. A few months later Herman Cain said there should be an electrified fence, with a charge strong enough to kill. He later explained that he too was joking, but would never apologise for standing up for America

The only problem with this great Republican talking point is that illegal immigration is declining at an alarming rate, in fact at a rate so significant that it may cease to be a campaign issue for Republicans, a tragic outcome indeed if Mitt Romney cannot exploit a human tragedy like illegal immigration for crass political purposes. 

 The Economist magazine reports on the success of U. S. policy to control its border.

It’s quiet most days in the El Paso sector, as the Border Patrol dubs this 268-mile slice of the border. Back in 1993, agents arrested 285,781 people trying to enter America illegally. In those days, the holding cells in the processing centre, explains Scott Hayes, a Border Patrol agent, were full to bursting. In 2010, however, agents picked up only 12,251 illegal immigrants in the area—a 96% decline. Much the same is true of the border as a whole: last year’s tally, of 447,731 arrests, is barely a quarter that of the peak year, 2000, when 1,643,679 people were intercepted. This year’s figure will be under 350,000; a fifth of the peak.

And what has been the cause of this success.  Well contrary to popular opinion, the administration of George W. Bush added substantially to the Border Patrol, and this policy was continued by the Obama administration.

The drop in arrests reflects not laxer enforcement, but stronger. There are over 17,000 Border Patrol agents on the border with Mexico, a fivefold increase over 1993. They patrol in cars and all-terrain vehicles, on bicycles and horses, in boats, planes and helicopters. When there are no agents around, cameras, reconnaissance drones and three different types of sensors—seismic, magnetic and infra-red—keep tabs on things. A third of the border is fenced, and most of the rest is in areas so remote or rugged as to make fences pointless or impractical. Some parts of the fence are 17 feet high, with metal plates extending ten feet below ground to prevent tunnelling.

So sorry Republicans, unless the U. S. Press can be convinced to ignore this story and still present the Republican side of the immigration issue and the Republican spin then you are out one big election issue.  Oh wait, the Press is on your side, only foreign press like The Economist would present the facts, unlike the U. S. Press they don’t care if the facts don’t support Republicans.

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