Monday, April 30, 2012

Princeton Mexican Migration Project discovers . . . tighter border enforcement keeps illegal immigrant IN, not OUT

Douglas Massey runs the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton, compiling and sharing the best available data sets on that most elusive population--illegal or undocumented workers.

Recently, Reason summarized his conclusions:

• We are not being flooded with illegal Mexican migrants. The total number of migrants from Mexico has varied very little since the 1950s. The massive influx many have written about never happened.

• Net illegal migration has stopped almost completely.

• Illegal migration has not stopped because of stricter border enforcement, which Massey characterizes as a waste of money at best and counterproductive at worst.

• There are indeed more undocumented Mexicans living in the United States than there were 20 years ago, but that is because fewer migrants are returning home -- not because more are sneaking into the country.

• And the reason that fewer Mexican citizens are returning home is because we have stepped up border enforcement so dramatically.

My friend John Young consistently makes the point, with regard to education, that we need to base policies decisions on the basis of data vetted through the peer-review process.  I have some issues with that position, which I will take up another day, but it is worth considering the law of unintended consequences.

With respect to illegal immigration, if Professor Massey is correct,

1.  We have been debating policy throughout the past decade based on the erroneous assumption that hordes of people are trampling down our borders.

2.  We have exacerbated our own immigration problems by making it more difficult for them to leave, not more difficult for them to get here.

3.  Knowing what the research says probably will not change anything.

If you are going to leave a comment suggesting Professor Massey is incorrect, please reference the inadequacies you have noted in your study of at least one of his databases, or don't bother.

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