Thursday, July 31, 2008

IPC Refutes CIS Claim that Drop in Undocumented Population is Due to Stepped Up Immigration Enforcement

The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC group that promotes more restrictive immigration laws and policies, recently concluded that drops in the undocumented population in the United States is attributable to stepped up immigration enforcement.  Below is CIS's announcements and major conclusion of the study.  The Immigration Policy Center, a division of the American Immigration Law Foundation which promotes more humane immigration laws and policies, questions the methodology and, therefore, the conclusions of the study.  That response is also provided below.


Ilegal Immigrant Population Dropping

New Report Estimates 1.3 Million Decline Since Last Summer
WASHINGTON (July 30, 2008) — A new analysis of monthly Census Bureau data shows a significant decline in the number of less-educated Hispanic immigrants. The report is the first to show systematic evidence that the illegal population is decreasing. There is good evidence that recent immigration enforcement efforts are a key factor causing the decline.

The report, entitled “Homeward Bound: Recent Immigration Enforcement and the Decline in the Illegal Alien Population,” is available at the Center for Immigration Studies web site

Among the findings:

• Our best estimate is that the illegal immigrant population has declined by 11 percent through May of this year after hitting a peak in August 2007.

• The implied decline in the illegal population is 1.3 million since last summer, from 12.5 in August 2007 to 11.2 million in May 2008.

• The estimated decline of the illegal population is at least 7 times larger than the number of illegal aliens removed by the government in the last 10 months, so most of the decline is due to illegal immigrants leaving the country on their own.

• One indication that stepped-up enforcement is responsible for the decline is that only the illegal immigrant population seems to be effected; the legal immigrant population continues to grow.

• Another indication enforcement is causing the decline is that the illegal immigrant population began falling before there was a significant rise in their unemployment rate.

• The importance of enforcement is also suggested by the fact that the current decline is already significantly larger than the decline during the last recession.

• While the decline began before unemployment rose, the evidence indicates that unemployment has increased among illegal immigrants, so the economic slowdown is likely to be at least partly responsible for the decline in the number of illegal immigrants.

• There is good evidence that the illegal population rose last summer while Congress was considering legalizing illegal immigrants. When that legislation failed to pass, the illegal population began to fall almost immediately.

Discussion: These findings are consistent with anecdotal evidence. They are also consistent with data showing a fall off in remittances sent home by immigrants. And they are in line with a drop in border apprehensions. While the evidence indicates that stepped-up immigration enforcement has played an important role in causing the decline, the economic downturn is also likely to be encouraging illegal immigrants to return home. The decline in the illegal population, whatever the cause, seems to directly challenge the argument that illegal aliens are so firmly attached to their lives in this country that it is not possible to induce many of them to return home. If the current trend were sustained, it could cut the illegal population in half within five years.

There is no way to know whether the current trend will continue. Future enforcement efforts as well as the state of the economy will likely determine if the number of illegal immigrants continues to drop. Both presidential candidates have recently stated their strong commitment to legalizing those in the country illegally. Pronouncements of this kind may have consequences. When Congress was considering legalizing illegal immigrants last summer, there is evidence that the illegal population grew. When that legislation failed to pass, the illegal population began to decline rapidly. It may be that the repeated promises of legalization by both candidates in recent weeks will encourage more illegal immigrants to enter the country or encourage those already in the country, who might otherwise leave, to stay in the hopes of being awarded legal status.

Methodology: This study uses monthly data from the Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau. The Department of Homeland Security, the former INS and other outside research organizations have used Census Bureau data to estimate the illegal immigrant population. We examine trends in the number of foreign-born less-educated young Hispanics. Prior research indicates that 80 percent of these individuals are in the country illegally. We estimate the range for the decline in the illegal immigrant population is 9 to 14 percent, with 11 percent as the most likely value.

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Contact: Steven Camarota

(202) 466-8185 •

Immigration Policy Center (IPC)
...providing factual information about immigration and immigrants in the United States.

For Immediate Release

Attrition Through Recession:
New CIS Report Suggests Spend More, Say Nothing,
and Hope for a Recession

July 30, 2008                                                                                             

Washington, DC--A new report released by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) on Wednesday, July 30th, claims that stepped-up enforcement measures account for much of the recent decline in the undocumented immigrant population. The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, an immigration research organization in Washington.

"CIS implies that the illegal immigrant population could drop to half of what it is now within the next five years if only presidential candidates keep silent about the details of comprehensive immigration reform, taxpayers continue to pour billions of dollars into enforcement, and the U.S. economic recession persists-according to CIS, reducing illegal immigration apparently comes with a cruel price tag.

Most researchers agree that undocumented immigration to the United States is driven largely by economics.  Yet, in a new report entitled Homeward Bound: Recent Immigration Enforcement and the Decline in the Illegal Alien Population, CIS dubiously claims that undocumented immigrants decide where to live and work based more on the politics of immigration enforcement than the economics of their own survival.  CIS concludes that the recent decline in the "likely illegal population" (which it defines as less-educated, foreign-born Hispanics age 18 to 40) is largely the result of new immigration-enforcement efforts rather than the downturn of the U.S. economy, including job losses in the construction sector that had been absorbing many less-skilled Hispanic immigrants. 

The persuasiveness of CIS' argument is undermined not only by an absence of hard data, but by the faulty logic and contradictory statements of the report itself.  The authors report confidently about a population that is nearly impossible to accurately measure.  They admit they did not include data about any population other than Hispanics.  They provide no evidence for their assertion that the immigration debate in Congress last summer spurred an increase in undocumented immigration. 

CIS provides no real solutions to the nation's immigration problems.  They insult thoughtful Americans when they seemingly hope for continued unemployment and recession, promote harsh enforcement measures that separate families and destroy communities, and suggest that politicians should not even talk about real solutions.  By requiring undocumented immigrants to come forward, legalize their status, and learn English, we would strengthen the rule of law and turn undocumented immigrants into taxpayers.  The U.S. must enact a practical, fair, and reasonable solution that includes smart enforcement measures."

For more information contact Andrea Nill, 202-507-7520 or email

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'By requiring undocumented immigrants to come forward, legalize their status, and learn English, we would strengthen the rule of law...'


We have immigration law. Angela's proposal is not in accordance with already established law and procedure. So how exactly does that 'strengthen rule of law'?

Maybe it's Angela Kelley and IPC who 'insult thoughtful Americans' with their requirement angle which one might conclude is more of an amnesty promotion gimmick than a serious policy proposal. Especially since some who favor it basically admit it's about PR.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 31, 2008 8:57:13 PM

"I'm going to be talking to my colleagues to put an end -- an end -- to these raids," Gutierrez said. "America is better, greater than these conditions which we have created in Postville."

Huh? It's not clear what he means by 'we' creating the Postville conditions. Maybe he's referring to the raid itself. But if he means the abusive work conditions he's got it 100% backward. Dude, a LACK of enforcement of both immigration and labor law creates Postvilles. You don't break the plethora of laws Agriprocessors did if you think there's a chance you'll be caught and punished severely. It's not that hard to understand in any other legal context. When law is not enforced, it tends to get broken a lot more. Yet somehow when immigration law is the issue, some people can't seem to grasp the obvious.

Does Luis prefer to let the horrid working conditions go on forever rather than inspect places and put a stop to it? Agriprocessors appears to be about the scummiest outfit imaginable but people like Luis aren't expressing outrage over child labor, physical abuse, etc.--nah, it's all about the raid to them. ICE is the bad guy. Truly amazing. And we're supposed to trust that when it comes to enforcement legislation which comes out of a CIR, guys like Luis won't immediately start trying to 'put an end -- an end' to that too?

If you see a problem with how the raid was carried out, then address that specifically. Or is he simply opposed to the very concept of inspections? When Luis calls for a wholesale end to raids, he doesn't say when they will come back. An answer of 'never' is a green light for MORE and WORSE (if that's even possible) Agriprocessors. If raids are not the way to go, well then how do you prevent the abuses? I don't hear any answers other than CIR will magically fix everything.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 31, 2008 11:52:58 PM

"I don't hear any answers other than CIR will magically fix everything." Jack almost has it right, but a more accurate way to look at CIR would be to say that "CIR will LOGICALLY fix everything." Luis Gutierrez, the co-author of the STRIVE Act, (a bi-partison bill he wrote with Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona), is far and away the best blueprint for CIR that's come out of Congress so far. The only way to comprehensively solve the problem of illegal immigration is to block any access to employment for new illegal immigrants, (enforcement), while simultaniously also regularizing the status of the law abilding undocumented that are already here and contributing to our society and floundering economy. If one reads the STRIVE Act, they would see the following enforcement provisions BEFORE one word is mentioned about earned legalization, ("AMNESTY"):
1) Vastly increased border enforcement personnel on both the southern and northern borders.
2) Assistance to Homeland Security from the Dept. of Defense that requires both agencies to submit plans to Congress detailing their efforts to coordinate their resources to secure the borders.
3) Strengthening infrastructure for border control, (constructing roads, vehicle barriers, etc.), to achieve operational control of our borders.
4) Improvements and additions to our ports of entry.
5) Requiring DHS to acquire and maintain unmanned aerial vehicles and related surveillance technologies.
6) Creates criminal penalties for evading inspection at the borders.
7) Requires DHS to develop and submit to Congress a National Strategy for Border Security and a comprehensive plan for surveillance of the international land and maritime borders of the U.S., and to submit to Congress a report on improving the exchange of information on North American security.
8) Requires the governments of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to work with the governments of Central America to improve security south of our border, specifically relating to gang and drug activity, and other law enforcement assistance.
9) Requires fraud prevention, by mandating that DHS produce biometric enhancements and train it’s officers in document fraud detection. Requires that documents be machine readable, tamper resistant, and incorporate a biometric identifier, and creates new authorities for collecting biometric information from all immigrants, and related penalties.
10) Mandates law enforcement relief for states and localities, authorizing DHS to award grants to law enforcement agencies that provide border related assistance. The bill also allows the Justice Dept. to reimburse state and local prosecutors for federally initiated and referred drug cases.
11) Initiates increased penalties related to gang activities, failure to depart, and alien smuggling.
12) Increases criminal penalties for immigrant drunk driving.
13) Increases penalties to employers that employ unauthorized immigrant workers.
14) Makes firearms sales or possession by undocumented immigrants a federal crime.
15) Increases Federal detention space.
16) Increases the number of I.C.E. agents.
17) Enhances penalties and reform of Passport, Visa, and Document Fraud offences.
18) Increases the criminal penalties associated with illegal reentry of aliens with criminal records.
19) Mandates detaining criminal aliens to ensure their removal upon completion of their criminal sentences.
20) Tightens voluntary departure requirements.
21) Reaffirms the inherent authority for immigration enforcement by State and local police to enforce criminal provisions of the immigration laws.
22) Mandatory address reporting requires of all aliens.
23) Expanded expedited removal provisions.
24) Expands the aggravated felony definition for deportable offences.

I think that Luis Gutierrez has earned the right to voice his opinion about the current environment of "enforcement only." The Congressman knows of what he speaks, and we would all be wise to listen to what he's saying.

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Aug 1, 2008 11:41:36 AM

Andrea is correct. The promotion of harsh enforcement measures that separate families and destroy communities, is not only unconscionable but Unconstitutional.

How can one arrive at a conclusion that we could "strengthen the rule of law" by ignoring the fact 7.1 Million of these affected families contain a US Citizen? Enforcement efforts that disrupt, destroy, and undermine the economic and emotional stability of these families is contrary to Public policy and is in violation of our Constitution. Defective and draconian legislation that undermines the basic social unit of our society the in-tact family has the effect of undermining respect for the "rule of law".

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. Family members being Exiled to another country certainly fits both these categories. The amendment states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted."

The DUE PROCESS CLAUSE of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars the states from inflicting such punishment for state crimes, and most state constitutions also prohibit the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Separation of the family unit for a civil immigration status violation is cruel and unusual.

Posted by: Frank Walters | Aug 2, 2008 2:09:32 PM


Stop spouting utter nonsense. None of the amendments you cite can be construed in such a way by anyone with common sense.

"Family members being Exiled to another country certainly fits both these categories."

This is absurd, as by your interpretation, we shouldn't arrest and convict criminal family members of citizens because it causes hardship to families. Preventing family members from being deported would be an open invitation to immigration anarchy, as foreign family members would simply enter the country illegally and become immune from our immigration laws.

Construing the 14th Amendment to cover deportation cruel and unusual punishment is also something I'd expect from the tin-foil hat crowd. Again, it would accomplish the same inane nullification of immigration law as it pertains to family members.

These families, by their actions, have inflicted this pain upon themselves, and should thus suffer the consequences of their actions, as all citizens do when they break our laws. Punishment with equal justice is the other side of the equal protection clause coin, the one you deign to ignore.

Pull your brain out of your butt, Frank, because you can't think clearly with it in its current location.

Posted by: Horace | Aug 3, 2008 7:18:48 AM

'The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes.'

Interesting theory but I think it wouldn't get far because, legally speaking, deportation is not a punishment. It does not involve a crime.

Posted by: Jack | Aug 5, 2008 5:30:12 AM

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