Saturday, October 27, 2007


After the failure of the amnesty bill in congress this past year the administration decided that it would give the people what they thought they wanted and start enforcing the existing immigration laws more vigorously. This was supposed to teach the ignorant masses a lesson as prices of everything from food to home maintenance went through the roof as the businesses lost their cheap labor.

Thomas Lifson looks at the real world results of enforcing the laws and finds that those hoping that a shortage of Mexicans would bring the benighted hillbillies who oppose amnesty to their knees are experiencing a devastating head-on collision with reality.

Open borders advocates and immigration amnesty enthusiasts long have argued that draconian raids and inhumane mass deportations are the only alternative, should America take seriously national sovereignty and the rule of law. The straw man vision of convoys of thousands of busses being necessary to convey illegal immigrants out of the country, along with the expectation that restaurants, construction, agriculture being crippled owing to the rule of law has convinced many to oppose actual enforcement of existing laws.

Such a vision betrays a mind accustomed to thinking that nothing ever happens unless some government official takes action and requires it to happen. The old command and control mentality at work. There is accumulating anecdotal evidence that, owing to better law enforcement and a downturn in the construction industry, large numbers of illegals are self-deporting.

On October 19, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit

You don't seem to see as many Mexicans around Knoxville as a few months ago, and I noticed that the landscaping outfit that does the common areas in my neighborhood -- whose workers were all Mexican as recently as this summer -- became kind of scarce for a few weeks and is now back with workers who are all quite obviously non-Mexican. Could this be related to the jailing of a local businessman for immigration violations? Probably. It suggests that even modest enforcement efforts might have a real impact.
Elisabeth Malkin of the International Herald Tribune writes an article headlined, "Mexicans miss money from relatives up north."

For years, millions of Mexican migrants working in the United States have sent money back home to villages like this one, money that allows families to pay medical bills and school fees, build houses and buy clothes or, if they save enough, maybe start a tiny business.

But after years of strong increases, the amount of migrant money flowing to Mexico has stagnated. From 2000 to 2006, remittances grew to nearly $24 billion a year from $6.6 billion, rising more than 20 percent some years. In 2007, the increase so far has been less than 2 percent.

Migrants and migration experts say a flagging American economy and an enforcement campaign against illegal workers in the United States have persuaded some migrants not to try to cross the border illegally to look for work. Others have decided to return to Mexico. And many of those who are staying in the United States are sending less money home.

In the rest of the world, remittances are rising, up as much as 10 percent a year, according to Donald Terry of the Inter-American Development Bank. Last year, migrant workers worldwide sent more than $300 billion to developing countries - almost twice the amount of foreign direct investment.

But in Mexico, families are feeling squeezed.

Sound inhumane? Dig a little deeper into the article, and the victim-centered prose that charafcterizes a New York Times-owned publication begins to be supplanted by some data that confirms the power of ordinary people reacting to incentives:
Some of the men are back and need cash for seeds and fertilizer to plow long-neglected fields. At the microcredit association operated by a local nonprofit group, the Bajío Women's Network, loans for agriculture, which barely existed last year, now account for 11 percent of all borrowing.

Imagine! Able and hard-working Mexicans, unable to violate our borders with impunity, are instead reinvigorating the moribund local economy. To be sure, the corruption and heavy hand of government in Mexico may well stifle these efforts, but if easy escape to the El Norte is no longer an alternative, perhaps there might be more interest in reforming Mexico, a country many have remarked is blessed with abundant natural resources, two long and beautiful coastlines, and a hard-working populace.

There is no reason beyond bad governance why Mexico must be poor. American open borders offer a safety valve relieving pressure for reform iun Mexico!

Meanwhile, the grape harvest here in California is in, and there were no reports of fruit rotting on the vines for lack of picking crews. Similarly, I have spotted no fast food restaurants closed for lack of help, and no construction sites closed down for lack of labor.

Simple measures, like getting serious of about enforcement at the border combined with employer sanctions, provide the signals individuals need in order to make their plans. As one Mexican interviewed by Ms. Malkin put it:

"It's really tough to go back," he said. "Now they lock you up. Before, they grabbed you and sent you back. The laws were never this tough."

Like I've said before the government in Mexico is never going to be reformed and cleaned up as long as they can push their poor citizens over the border into America. This both gets rid of those with ambition and a willingness to take risks (traits that tend to belong to reformers and revolutionaries) and sends a river of hard currency back into Mexico.

Close down that safety valve and without significant change the pressure will cause the status quo in Mexico to blow apart.

I'm not saying that it won't be painful. Real and positive change usually is, but with a little luck and guidance from the North it will produce a free and prosperous Mexico and leave the US to deal with its own problems in peace.