By Joe Guzzardi
October 31, 2012
A majority of illegal aliens deported back to Mexico are determined to return to the United States. Interviewed by researchers from the University of Southern California’s Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and in collaboration with El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, deportees indicate that they fully intend to attempt another illegal crossing at the earliest opportune moment. Whether apprehended at the border or during job site enforcement, the commitment to re-enter the United States is equally strong.
Deported Mexican aliens are likely to be older, married and heads of household. In 2011 nearly half of all repatriated Mexicans had lived in the United States for more than a year.
Although the report’s evidence suggests that Mexican migration has stabilized post-recession, its findings also predict that once either economic conditions improve or the political climate becomes more favorable (amnesty or expanded deferred action), the outflow of Mexican nationals will resume. Even during the Great Recession’s grimmest months, more than 80 percent of repatriated Mexican migrants said they will return to the United States.
Whether the report represents good news or bad news depends how it’s interpreted. For big business that have traditionally relied on cheap labor—most notably, the leisure, agriculture and construction industries—the more pliant workers available, the better.
But for mainstream Americans, more illegal immigrants depresses household incomes, further damages the stagnant economy and strains already tapped out social services budgets. Twenty years after first arriving in the United States, 43 percent of immigrants receive some type of welfare benefits. The totals represent immigrants from all sending countries but most are Mexican.
Despite the White House’s consistently upbeat patter about immigration’s positive impact, the truth is that most immigrants struggle from day one. Another research organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, found that even though immigrants make gradual progress the longer they live in the United States, they consistently lag native-born Americans in terms of income, health insurance coverage and homeownership—financial success’ key barometers. The CIS study titled “Immigrants in the United States 2010: a Profile of America’s Foreign-Born Population” is based on 2010 and 2011 census data.
Not surprisingly, California is the most adversely impacted state. California’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) grew 15 percent (1.3 million) from 2000 to 2010. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) account for 37 percent of the state’s overall population as well as 51 percent of impoverished persons and 28 percent of those who lack health insurance, far greater percentages than those for native-born.
California immigrants’ lower socio-economic status is not only because most are recent arrivals who have not yet assimilated; their average United States residency is 21 years. What keeps many immigrants back is their educational shortcomings. Among adult immigrants (age 25-65), 36 percent don’t have a high school diploma. Furthermore, prospects for immigrants’ children might be compromised by language barriers. In 2010, half of California’s K-12 school enrollment is from immigrant households where a language other than English is spoken.
For decades, immigration has been on autopilot. Capitol Hill constantly lobbies for more legal immigration. Each administration since Lyndon Johnson’s has ignored illegal immigration. The USC report predicts more aliens crossings while the CIS analysis lays out irrefutable evidence that illegal immigration works against Americans best interests.
An immigration moratorium has, except for the handful that profit from cheap labor, little downside risk. The incoming 113th Congress could and should implement an immediate moratorium.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]