That “Surprise!” Thing Again

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A few days ago, I posted about the apparently surprising news that enforcing laws against illegal immigration actually works in getting illegals to go back to their own countries. Lo and behold, Reuters has just noticed the same thing. Illegals are "self-deporting" at record levels.

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Mexican illegal immigrant Lindi sat down with her husband Marco Antonio in the weeks before Christmas to decide when to go back to Mexico.

She has spent three years working as a hairdresser in and around Phoenix, but now she figures it is time to go back to her hometown of Aguascalientes in central Mexico.

"The situation has got so tough that there don't seem to be many options left for us," Lindi, who asked for her last name not to be used, told Reuters.

The couple are among a growing number of illegal immigrants across the United States who are starting to pack their bags and move on as a crackdown on undocumented immigrants widens and the U.S. economy slows, turning a traditional Christmas trek home into a one-way trip.

In the past year, U.S. immigration police have stepped up workplace sweeps across the country and teamed up with a growing number of local forces to train officers to enforce immigration laws.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to offer many of the 12 million illegal immigrants a path to legal status was tossed by the U.S. Congress, spurring many state and local authorities to pass their own measures targeting illegal immigrants.

The toughening environment has been coupled with a turndown in the U.S. economy, which has tipped the balance toward self deportation for many illegal immigrants left struggling to find work.

There is quite a lot of whining in the story about how the decline of the dollar has undercut the amount of money that the illegal immigrants can export back home and about how the US economy has weakened, making it tougher for them to find work. The upside of all that is that if enough of these folks leave, they will cease to exert downward pressure on wages in the US. It will also decrease the burden of illegal immigrants on local governments. Citizens will benefit.

Some of the illegals are moving within the US to areas where enforcement is not as strict – those places will continue to see that downward wage pressure and an increasing demand on public services and will suffer for it – eventually, the citizens will be screaming for enforcement in those areas as well. If anything, this all proves that the problem of illegal immigration can be solved. We can have strong borders while liberalizing our legal immigration programs.

High fence, wide gate. It will work.

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