Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Law of Unintended Consequences
I just love stuff like this.

When policy makers simplistically create legislation and regulation without much deep thought, it is amazing how often their intentions backfire. And while the Democrats are not immune from this phenomena, the Republicans are positively the queens:
Two decades of U.S. immigration policy have done little to stop illegal entry into America, now home to up to 12 million illegal immigrants, a new study says.

Stricter border controls have made it more difficult to go back and forth across the border, causing many illegal immigrants to deepen their roots north of the border, according to the report released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

"The security has done more to keep people from going back to Mexico than it has to keep them from coming in," said Jeffrey Passel, a researcher who wrote the report.

Passel's analyses, based on the 2000 Census and subsequent population surveys through January, are the latest national estimates of illegal immigration.

The report found that:

Since 2000, growth in illegal immigrants has averaged more than 500,000 a year, although about 850,000 arrive each year.

Illegal immigrants comprise 30 percent of the 37 million foreign-born people in the United States.

More than 40 percent of the illegal population in 2005, or 4.4 million people, have been in the country since 2000.

Illegals comprise one in 20 workers in the United States, or 7.2 million people.

Illegals predominantly are Latin American, with 56 percent from Mexico and 22 percent from Central America and South America.
Another wedge issue bites the dust. Well ... at least from a factual standpoint.

Turns out that when border crossing is more difficult, you might as well bring along the whole family. If it's going to be difficult to go back and forth, might as well make it a permanent move. Also, since getting permission for family members to cross has become so difficult, workers with a clearance end up sneaking in the family. Clearly, the drive to cross for employment is greater than the drive to go home, as is the need to stay intact as families.

More from the report:
The Pew report said that a year ago there were an estimated 5.4 million men, 3.9 million women and 1.8 million children in the country illegally, for a total of 11.1 million. Based on its data, the Pew center projected the current total is 11.5 million to 12 million.

"This is a population drawn by employment," Passel said. "Overall, the picture we have is of young, working families coming to the United States to participate in the labor market."

The report found undocumented workers fill a quarter of all agricultural jobs, 17 percent of office and house cleaning positions, 14 percent of construction jobs and 12 percent in food preparation.
While these numbers are huge, you know they are inaccurately low. Finding data on people who don't want to be counted is a very difficult proposition. If the U.S. truly stopped illegal immigration, the economy in the Southwest would simply come to a standstill. That's why border control and illegal immigration is the perfect wedge issue. The conservatives keep it as a rallying cry drawing votes from those ignorant of the issues while never being able to really do anything about it.