Im­mi­gra­tion fig­ures high­est since Clin­ton

New ar­rivals less likely from Mex­ico

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Both le­gal and il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion spiked over the past two years, with the to­tal num­ber of ar­rivals in that pe­riod top­ping 3 mil­lion for the first time since the end of the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from an im­mi­gra­tion think tank re­leased last week.

Roughly one-third of those are il­le­gal im­mi­grants, ac­count­ing for 550,000 each year in 2014 and 2015, the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies cal­cu­lated based on Cen­sus Bureau sta­tis­tics.

The num­bers sug­gest an early trend of ris­ing im­mi­gra­tion, with ma­jor in­creases in ar­rivals from East and South Asia and from Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries be­sides Mex­ico. All told, the num­ber of im­mi­grants liv­ing in the U.S. likely posted a record high of 43 mil­lion at the be­gin­ning of this year, the cen­ter con­cluded.

“The idea that some­how the era of mass im­mi­gra­tion is over is wrong,” said Steven A. Ca­marota, a de­mog­ra­pher and re­search di­rec­tor at the cen­ter. “Ba­si­cally, a de­cline from Mex­ico has been re­placed by in­creases from else­where.”

In­deed, Mex­ico, which a decade ago lost as many as 500,000 peo­ple a year to the U.S., sent only about 150,000 a year in 2014 and 2015. The rest of Latin Amer­ica, how­ever, has seen a spike from about 225,000 a year to about 440,000 a year.

His re­port fo­cused on the flow of im­mi­grants, but Mr. Ca­marota said he also has reached a “pre­lim­i­nary” es­ti­mate of the to­tal num­ber of il­le­gal im­mi­grants now in the coun­try, which he put at 11.7 mil­lion as of the be­gin­ning of the year.

The forces at work are com­plex, an­a­lysts say.

In terms of the le­gal im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion from Asia, a spike in long-term work visas for In­di­ans and Chi­nese is pow­er­ing the growth. The il­le­gal im­mi­grant surge, mean­while, is likely due to un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren and fam­i­lies from Cen­tral Amer­ica, as well as an even big­ger in­crease in peo­ple from across the globe coming on le­gal visas, then not leav­ing when their time is up.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has strug­gled to count the num­ber of visa over­stays, but data from the Cen­ter for Mi­gra­tion Stud­ies — which is un­af­fil­i­ated with the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies — sug­gests more than half of all unau­tho­rized im­mi­grants ar­rived legally but over­stayed their terms.

Bran­don Judd, the chief of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil, tes­ti­fied to Con­gress two weeks ago that agents aren’t even look­ing for over­stays be­cause their hands are tied by Pres­i­dent Obama’s new en­force­ment poli­cies.

“The prob­lem that we face today is no­body be­lieves that our im­mi­gra­tion laws are go­ing to be en­forced. Ev­ery­body world­wide knows that our im­mi­gra­tion laws are not go­ing to be en­forced,” he said.

The pace of im­mi­gra­tion — both le­gal and il­le­gal — has been a sleeper is­sue in the pres­i­den­tial race this year.

Pre­sump­tive GOP nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump has said he would cut the level of em­ploy­ment-based visas and would tar­get il­le­gal im­mi­grants for de­por­ta­tion, while the two re­main­ing Demo­cratic can­di­dates have both sup­ported more le­nient poli­cies for il­le­gal im­mi­grants and in­creases in le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

“With num­bers like th­ese, it’s cer­tainly ap­pro­pri­ate that im­mi­gra­tion num­bers should be at the fore­front of the pres­i­den­tial de­bate,” Mr. Ca­marota said of his re­search.

He used the Cen­sus Bureau’s monthly Cur­rent Pop­u­la­tion Sur­vey, the an­nual Amer­i­can Com­mu­nity Sur­vey and its So­cial and Eco­nomic Sup­ple­ment, which over­sam­ples mi­nori­ties, to cal­cu­late his find­ings.

Mr. Ca­marota found im­mi­gra­tion bot­tomed out in 2010 and 2011, with only a lit­tle more than 1 mil­lion im­mi­grants ar­riv­ing a year at that point — about a third of them unau­tho­rized. That rose to about 1.1 mil­lion a year in 2012 and 2013, and to more than 1.5 mil­lion a year in 2014 and 2015 — again, with about one-third of them unau­tho­rized.

His cal­cu­la­tion of 11.7 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants in the coun­try as of the be­gin­ning of 2016 is stark, and it con­tra­dicts other re­search that sug­gests the num­ber has been drop­ping in re­cent years. In­deed, the un­af­fil­i­ated Cen­ter for Mi­gra­tion Stud­ies re­cently es­ti­mated the num­ber had dropped to 10.9 mil­lion — be­low the 11 mil­lion mark — as of 2014.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion hasn’t pro­duced an es­ti­mate of the unau­tho­rized pop­u­la­tion since Jan­uary 2012.

“The prob­lem that we face today is no­body be­lieves that our im­mi­gra­tion laws are go­ing to be en­forced. Ev­ery­body world­wide knows that our im­mi­gra­tion laws are not go­ing to be en­forced.” — Bran­don Judd, the chief of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Im­mi­grants posted a record high of 43 mil­lion, with ma­jor in­creases in ar­rivals from eastern and south­ern Asia and from Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries out­side of Mex­ico, the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies said.

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