Friday, February 13, 2009

Is the Recession Taking Care of the Immigration Problem?

What was once one of the most important policy issues in our country, immigration has become almost forgotten. With our economy in a recession and employment being much harder to come by, there's evidence that fewer illegals are trying to enter through the border:

The number of people caught trying to sneak into the U.S. along the border with Mexico is at its lowest level since the mid-1970s. While some of the drop-off is the result of stricter border enforcement, the weaker U.S. economy is likely the main deterrent. Border Patrol agents apprehended 705,000 people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30. That is down from 858,638 a year before and from 1.1 million two years earlier.

Some may view this as a positive, but there are negative implications as well. These workers contribute to our economy in ways which usually aren't counted by government statistics. Many take care of seasonal work or manual labor that many people have refused to do in recent years. The truth is many people who have become unemployed are now probably willing to do more of this type of work, but there will still be a big void left if less immigrants are here.

Not sure the long term implications of this, but it is happening now. At a minimum, its giving our lawmakers some time to focus on the economy before having to tackle immigration reform again.

WSJ Article.

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