Obama’s Bad Economy Lowered Illegal Immigration

When Obama defended himself from Romney’s criticisms of his immigration policy, Obama responded: “So we’ve put more Border Patrol on than any time in history and the flow of undocumented workers across the border is actually lower than it’s been in 40 years.”

I don’t know about the numbers of Border Patrol agents. Hopefully none of them are getting shot with US guns in the hands of drug cartel members. But I find the second half of his sentence quite plausible. It would not surprise me at all if illegal immigration (“the flow of undocumented workers across the border.”) is indeed at a historic low point.

The reason for the decline is quite clear: the economic crash. Suddenly stories appeared in the newspapers about how money was no longer being sent back to families in Latin America. The immigrants had no work and therefore no money to send. Rather than send back money, many returned themselves. There were no longer any jobs they could do. They had to go back home.

As one story from October 2008 reported:

The numbers are changing. Fewer people are taking a chance crossing the border illegally. The change hasn’t to do with better fences, more guards or stiffer requirements. The change is that there are no jobs waiting for those who take the chance at a better life living as a ghost in the United States. Border Patrol has seen a decrease of 12 percent along the Mexican border. Those who are here are sending less money back to their families.

So I don’t think Border Patrols are what has made the difference. Rather, Obama has not been able to deliver any kind of economic recovery so there is no real incentive for immigrants to cross the border. The Mexicans and others from further South believe they are better off staying in their home country, rather than coming to the United States to look for work. People used to come here because it was relatively easy to find a prosperous job. That is no longer the case.

Obama should not be boasting in the low numbers of “undocumented workers” crossing the border. It is virtually the same as boasting that the unemployment rate is high. Worse, other kinds of immigration have also tapered off. According to Forbes, the number of entrepreneurial documented immigrants has begun to slide. They used to start many new businesses and create jobs for Americans. But now they too are repelled by the economy and are going elsewhere.

Whether or not people should come here illegally, they should at least wish they could live here. Obama has made many people glad to stay home or travel elsewhere.

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