Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

Pro-amnesty leaders had reasons to be distraught as the U.S. House passed a "clean" re-authorization of E-Verify for 5 years just after the release of a report that perhaps a million unlawfully present foreign citizens may have left the U.S. during the past year. One of the main arguments for an amnesty is that nothing -- NOTHING -- can cause most of the 12 million illegal residents to go back to their home countries.

The pro-amnesty spokespersons were falling all over themselves telling the news media that the exodus is not what it seems to be.

But this is fantastic news for the rest of us, not only because of the great environmental, quality-of-life, tax and economic fairness benefits of a million fewer illegal residents but because it provides strong proof that Attrition Through Enforcement works.


The report by Steve Camarota and Karen Jensenius of the Center for Immigration Studies found a big buildup of the illegal population in the months surrounding the Senate votes on an amnesty (Comprehensive Immigration Reform).

It suggests that all the speeches by politicians in favor of rewarding illegal activity with U.S. citizenship may have caused the big spike in the illegal population.

But it also found that soon after the amnesty was soundly defeated, the illegal population began a significant decline that continued until May of this year when the news was again full of promises by Senators to try to pass an amensty (but they failed again).


The study's authors note that the net exodus occurred as the Bush Administration began to really put some teeth into its interior enforcement.

I have seen comments on several news sites from readers ridiculing the idea that the Bush Administration has gotten serious about enforcement.

But the CIS study provides a fair amount of detail to back up that claim. And I agree. After 6 years of resisting enforcement, the Bush Administration really started to put the squeeze on illegal employment and illegal residence after the grassroots rose up and defeated the amnesty.

If the first six Bush years had enjoyed the same level of enforcement as these last two, the illegal population might be less than half its current size today.

The enforcement trend is in the right direction -- and the illegal community apparently believes it.


The pro-amnesty spokespersons were falling all over themselves to first of all say that illegal workers are not leaving the country and that even if they are, it isn't because of enforcement.

I find their comments hilarious on two counts.

First, the news media has been filled with hand-wringing quotes from pro-amnesty people around the country lamenting that one foreign neighborhood after another is experiencing closed businesses and shuttered apartments and houses because so many foreign nationals are leaving.

Second, the critics have been decrying new enforcement laws in Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia and elsewhere because they have created a climate of fear that is creating an exodus.

On Wednesday, though, the pro-amnesty folks suddenly seemed to realize that all their sob-sister stories were pretty much proving our point -- that enforcement works. That with a moderate amount of enforcement (often even just PROMISES of enforcement), illegal workers will self-deport. Attrition Through Enforcement.

This is such terrible news for the amnesty crowd.

For a couple of years they have generated polls showing that if given a choice between mass deportations and mass legalization, the majority of Americans will take legalization (amnesty). But further study of polling shows that it is only when Americans are led to believe that the 12 million illegal aliens already here can never be caused to leave that Americans will resign themselves to some kind of amnesty.

If this news of an exodus gets out, Americans are sure to want to see it continue -- and there goes any support for an amnesty.


The CIS report is clear that the economic downturn is a big partner with the extra enforcement in creating the exodus.

But critics say enforcement didn't have anything to do with it. The whole problem, they say, is that the illegal workers can't find jobs in this bad economy -- and that is why they are leaving the country.

This is supposed to make us think that enforcement doesn't work.

But what is the No. 1 tool of enforcement? Why, it is drying up the jobs through E-Verify and other measures. In other words, regardless of what extent the exodus was caused by the economy drying up jobs or by enforcement drying up the prospects of jobs, it is the bleak future for securing a decent job that is at the heart of the departures.

The main ingredient of tough new enforcement laws in more than a dozen states is the mandating of E-Verify for various groups of employers.

Nearly every form of the increasing enforcement the last year has diminished the ability of unlawfully present foreign nationals to make as much money as they used to. Since studies have shown that making more money is the primary reason they come here, this enforcement is having its effect.


After 20 years of the illegal population growing larger and larger each year, it looks like we have finally had a year of decline.

The key to continuing that decline -- and accelerating it -- is to expand E-Verify in every way possible.

First, we had to get it re-authorized in the House. Done.

Next, you have to break the hold of Sen. Menendez (D-N.J.) that is keeping E-Verify from the floor of the Senate.

Then, every state needs to follow the first dozen states in mandating E-Verify everywhere they can. In states that don't, pass these mandates at the county and city level.

And maybe, just maybe, all of you will mobilize sufficiently during August to force Congress in September to pass the SAVE Act. That bill would phase in mandatory E-Verify over four years. We easily could see 6 million of the 12 million illegal population go home over that period.

The relief that is being felt in some parts of the country from the first 1 million departure would spread throughout the nation!

Updated: Fri, Aug 1st 2008 @ 8:57am EDT

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