Immigration Fantasy

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
We all know the result of the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. Hordes of swarthy foreigners took advantage of Reagan's leniency and forever changed the demographic makeup of United States - to its detriment.

Or not.

If one spends some time perusing this report a different picture appears with regard to the outcome of the amnesty program. The first thing that is noticeable is the relationship of applications to the upper boundary of the estimated illegal population. Only 60% of the (high) estimate of 5 million illegals (in '86) bothered to apply. Given that applications were not restricted to a limited window of opportunity it is reasonable to assume that the actual total number was much closer to the lower bound of 3 million. (The current upper bound would be about 9 million today per INS estimates.)

The second item of interest is the composition of the national origin of the 2.7 million applicants approved for LPR (legal permanent resident) status. Seventy-five per cent were born in Mexico. Somewhat unsurprising, but what is surprising is that in the end only 27% of the Mexican LPR's had chosen to become US citizens by 2001. To put that in perspective, during the years '89-'01 some 53 million citizens became eligible to vote for the first time, about 890 thousand of them became eligible due to IRCA and of those some 545 thousand were of Mexican descent.

The numbers involved do not suggest that an amnesty would be cause for great concern but they also suggest that a smarter solution might be an enlargement of the worker visa program that was not an actual path to citizenship. It would be interesting to see what would happen if a 10 year visa (renewable once) were offered. If it were coupled with a committment to stronger enforcement of existing laws it might well cure the problem forever. That means that Congress will never pass such a law. They are in the problem business - not the solution business.


Skookumchuk said...


It would be interesting to see what would happen if a 10 year visa (renewable once) were offered.

You'd have to enforce it. And there's the rub.

terrye said...


I think you are a lot closer to right than that nutcase Tancredo is but getting these people to listen to anything other than load em up and hsip em out and wall wall wall is almost impossible.

I am not sure how many of these illegals really want to be citizens nor I am not sure how many of them could pay the fines etc even if they were interested. I think a lot of these folks would like to be legal and would pay taxes but people want to make this way too complicated.

What I always wondered about is if all these people came here because of some amnesty program in the 80's, what brought those people here before the amnesty?

Rick Ballard said...


Right now there are about 4.4 million holders of LPR status who are of Mexican descent. Lazt year 77,000 were naturalized. They're here to work - not to become Americans.


If the penalty were 60 days of beans, rice and tortillas (and loss of income) then feewer attempts would be made. It is a matter of will, though. And that will doesn't exist at the moment.

David Thomson said...

“That means that Congress will never pass such a law.”

Congress will shy away from official pronouncements. Instead, it will rely on tacit agreements. We are already seeing a sharp drop in illegal immigrants successfully getting into this country. A muddled consensus has evolved essentially saying:

“The borders must be secured. We will somehow deal with those illegals already in the country---especially if their children are American citizens. Are you looking for logical consistency? Don’t be so naive. The so-called solution to this crisis is going to look awfully messy. At times, it will even seem hypocritical.”

David Thomson said...

I can easily imagine a county sheriff saying the following to a Mexican illegal:

“Jose, I like you. Maria and you have two wonderful kids born in the United States who attend school with my children. Are you legally entitled to be in the country? I don’t want to know the answer to this question. In the last few years, however, a number of your cousins and other relatives have joined you. This must stop. Tell your family members in Mexico to stay home. I mean it. Don’t you even think of messing with me. I will turn your life into a living nightmare if you do. Also, we never had this conversation. This is strictly between you and me. Got it? OK, see you later. Say Hi to Maria for me.”