Some of you may be wondering why the issue of illegal immigration has not been a hotter topic given the upcoming Presidential election. The most obvious reason is that both Obama and McCain covet the Hispanic vote which, generally speaking, goes to the candidate least in favor of strong border controls and deportation of immigrants. Additionally, the last attempt Congress made at passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill drew such ire from the public that politicians on both sides of the aisle (particularly Republicans) fear the wrath of anti-immigration forces should they come out in favor of amnesty for illegals in any form; therefore, the most politically expedient course of action seems to be inaction. There have been sporadic news reports detailing the outrage of immigrant advocacy groups in response to aggressive raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on illegals and the businesses that employ them, but the general issue itself – namely, what to do with the millions of illegals still in the United States – seems to have vanished off the face of the American political landscape. It is not at all likely that disparate political factions have reached any agreement on the subject of how to deal with immigrants (despite the fact that McCain and Obama both openly court the Hispanic vote), so where has the debate gone? Could there be a reason for the silence beyond McCain’s and Obama’s mutual need for Hispanic votes? Yes, yes there could.
According to evidence supplied by Fox News , there is a surprising trend of illegal immigrants leaving the United States for their home countries. With the illegal immigrant population in the United States dropping by 11 percent since the same time last year, one must wonder why all these immigrants are fleeing. Could it be due to the actions of the ICE? Perhaps so, though more sinister trends may be afoot. It may be that the weakening economy may be driving away immigrants who, for whatever reason, can or will no longer live in the United States with their meager immigrant wages. Some would take this to be a sign of impending doom for the American economy, but I would not be so quick to declare our nation to be in a state of emergency.
The most important thing to remember is that during this economic downturn, the hardest-hit will be the poorest among us, which certainly includes illegals working for pay “under the table”. A legal citizen working the same job could reasonably expect higher wages and superior benefits, hence the attractiveness to employers of cheap immigrant labor willing to work for depressed wages. While many illegals have demonstrated the ability to survive on bottom-of-the-barrel wages while wiring money to relatives in their home countries, even they can not withstand prolonged inflation of food and fuel prices without making adjustments; however it is not entirely clear what many of them hope to find elsewhere since food and energy prices have been soaring globally. There may be more to this trend than I or anyone else knows. Any number of other factors could be involved, ranging from outrage within the general American public over illegal immigration to the realization by illegals that restrictions against their potential future return would be relaxed should they leave of their own free will. The only certainty is that the ICE’s now-defunct voluntary deportation program was not responsible for this massive emigration of illegals.
Whatever their reason for departing for their home countries, we should not look at the emigration trend with fear or concern. The many maladies brought on by illegal immigration so often lamented by anti-immigrant groups, including stress on government health and human services, wage depression, prison overpopulation, and so forth may become less prevalent in states currently burdened with numerous illegal immigrants. If critics of amnesty-for-illegals are to believed, our country should enjoy a small economic boost from a reduction in the illegal immigrant population. Furthermore, there is the considerable matter of our border law enforcement finally being respected by those who have openly defied it for so many years. It is possible that tensions between different racial and cultural groups may also ease. For the most part, the departure of millions of illegal immigrants will be a good thing for our nation, though we should expect more complaints than anything else, especially from immigrant advocacy groups that will have precious little reason to exist once the illegal immigrant population is diminished in size and importance.
– Matthew Anderson