To Reform Immigration, Legal and Illegal

Members of the chattering classes keep hoping the immigration issue will just go away. I was once interviewed on a radio show along with an activist on the other side who said Mexico’s falling birthrate would mean that pretty soon we’d be scratching our heads wondering what all the fuss over immigration policy was about. That was nearly 25 years ago. In 2006, Mexican president Vicente Fox said that in ten years we’d be begging for Mexican workers, but they wouldn’t come, because they’d all be employed at home. And just recently, the New York Times ran a front-page story on the coming end of the Mexican immigration flow, a meme eagerly picked up by Michael Barone, Linda Chavez, and other columnists.

There’s a germ of truth here: The flow of illegals across the Mexican border has indeed slowed during the recession. But the tapering off of mass immigration that is said to be just over the horizon always will be. There are nearly 40 million immigrants in the United States — about one in eight residents — and, even during the worst part of the recession, more than 1 million people moved here annually from abroad.

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