It’s sounding like all that heated rhetoric from Republican candidates about an uncontrollable, porous border is turning out to be exactly that — rhetoric.
A new study from the Center for Migration Studies has found that the total undocumented immigrant population in the United States declined to 10.9 million in 2014, making it the lowest level in well over a decade.
The undocumented immigrant population has declined by an average of almost 200,000 each year since 2008, driven largely by a decline in those coming from Mexico. Last year the Pew Research Center reported a net loss of 140,000 Mexican nationals from 2009 to 2014, with many of them citing family reunification as the top reason for going back.
California, New York, and Illinois lost the largest number of undocumented people, 318,000, 99,000, and 139,000 from 2010 to 2014, respectively, researchers found.
While states like Massachusetts and Georgia lost smaller numbers of undocumented immigrants during the same period, 24,000 and 51,000, respectively, they saw their figures drop at high rates. From 2010 to 2014, Massachusetts saw it’s undocumented population fall 14% and Georgia saw it’s numbers drop 13%. Illinois percent change was the highest at 23%.
Of the 10 states with the highest undocumented populations in 2014, only Texas and Virginia saw gains of 1% and 7%, respectively, when compared to 2010.
As the report notes, the steady decline of the undocumented population began in 2008, no doubt aided by President George W. Bush’s then-record number of deportations.
That number, 1.65 million, was subsequently wiped out by the record 2.4 million immigrants deported during the first six years of the Obama Administration.
The border is the most secure it’s been in decades, with the United States government already spending more on immigration enforcement — $18 billion a year — than all other federal law enforcement priorities combined.
But if you’ve been listening to the 2016 Republican candidates for President, you’d think it’s nothing but chaos at the border.
The party’s leading candidate, Donald Trump, has not only built his empire thanks to immigrants, but his Presidential campaign too, claiming that not only have we “lost control of our borders,” but that immigrants just “walk past right past” border agents, and the only solution is his fantasy to build a border wall that would rival the Great Wall of China.
Unlike the Center for Migration Studies, Trump has no facts no back up his ridiculous claims, so he’s forced to make them up. Earlier this month, Trump’s campaign released an ad supposedly featured footage of Mexicans crossing the border illegally into the United States.
Of course, the footage turned out to be completely doctored, traced by Politifact back to an Italian television network. And that supposed footage of Mexican immigrants invading the United States certainly wasn’t anywhere even remotely close to our border — as the Trump campaign had claimed — but instead the North African country of Morocco.
“The facts of the report tell a different story than what you might hear on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress, where many send a message that we’re being overrun by undocumented immigrants,” said Kevin Appleby of the Center for Migration Studies.
“The facts and the data show that’s just not true. Hopefully, political discourse will be more fact-based going forward.”
We hope so, too. But with Trump and Ted Cruz leading the Republican Presidential pack, we’re not so sure of it.