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Illegal Immigration: Where’s the Fire?

Back in 2005, during the last border scare, Theo asked where the flood of illegal immigrants was to justify the calls for the restriction of our rights. There was no flood. Illegal immigration was actually ebbing at the time:

2003 was the last year of available data. Now data is available through 2008:

Deportable Aliens located by the Border Patrol, 1977-2008

You’re reading the graph right: the number of illegal aliens found by the Border Patrol and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2008 was actually the lowest number in the last 30 years, and it’s not because there are fewer, more poorly equipped Border Patrol and ICE agents out there to catch ‘em. No, the Border Patrol budget has gone up and up and up.

There are fewer, not more, illegal immigrants in the United States than before. This is why claims that “we’ve got to do something to face this crisis” don’t and won’t convince me that we’ve got to strip people of their constitutional rights and whip up a police state. The data didn’t demonstrate a crisis five years ago, and they don’t demonstrate a crisis today.

5 comments to Illegal Immigration: Where’s the Fire?

  • ramone

    maybe this should be one of the government operations that the tea party complaining about paying for. graphs are kind of like polls, they can be interpreted any way you want the data to read.
    it seems the number of illegal aliens has fallen (the lowest in thirty years), the border patrol budget has risen every year (except “04, must have needed more for iraq) and is now at its highest level ever. that could mean that they are doing a great job with the increased budget. it could mean that they were doing far better back in 1989 with a budget of about a billion dollars less.
    but, don’t tell the tea partiers that, they would have us build a 20 ft. wall across the entire southern border. damn the cost! we need to be protected from these brown skinned people who are willing to do the dirty jobs the white folks won’t do.

    • Jim

      Actually, you can’t (honestly) interpret polls any way you want. If you pay attention to measurements and if you keep track of the same measurement over time, then whatever bias is introduced by the choice of measurement cannot account for the changes over time, since the measurement, however biased, is constant.

      You could say plausibly either that the number of illegal immigrants deported is happening despite the rise in the Border Patrol budget or because of the rise in the Border Patrol budget. To figure out which of these two statements is true, you’d need to do some further analysis, looking across sectors or something like that. But — and this is crucial — the investment in Border Patrol is a SEPARATE issue from SB 1070. SB 1070 would add a NEW measure designed to … tackle the supposed crisis in illegal immigration that does not exist. REGARDLESS of how you explain the decrease in the number of illegal immigrants, there is a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants.

      No matter how you massage the data, you cannot possibly (honestly) conclude that there has been a rise in the number of illegal immigrants. There is no need to introduce a new treatment for a crisis, especially one that induces harm to the viability of our constitutional rights, when the crisis does not exist.

      • ramone

        and being a separate issue, there will be aseparate budget for this new measure thought up by tea partying members of arizona’s legislature. MORE TAXES! just for implementation, then there’s the extra jail space… maybe the tea party can raise about a billion dollars in the private sector to successfully fund SB1070. i’m sure sarah will donate a portion of every $100, 000.00 speaking engagement, say 15%; and glenn beck; he could have a televised fund raiser.
        no, tea partiers keep their money for themselves, this will have to be a taxpayer obligation… and then blame obama!

  • Tomas

    …whatever, illegal is illegal…the tide of illegal invasion is down? Great! let’s now find and remove the rest of them….

  • Steve

    To be fair, you could attribute the decline in deportable illegal immigrants to the cited rise in CBP budget. Even so, 800,000 is a lot of people to find living illegally in your country each year, and we can only assume that there are even more who go undetected. I’m not in favor of the Arizona law, because it violates the civil liberties of law-abiding citizens, but a country has every right to protect its borders and determine who can and cannot enter.

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