About 1.3 million illegal immigrants have left the U.S. since Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform a year ago, says the Christian Science Monitor. If the trend continues, says a new study, the nation’s illegal population will drop by half in the next five years. The Center for Immigration Studies says young Hispanic immigrants began heading south before the nation’s economy did – a clue that what’s driving the new outmigration is a stepped-up border and workplace enforcement, not a souring job market.
The report’s key conclusion is that enforcement, not the economy, is driving the decision to self-deport. By the end of this year, the U.S. Border Patrol will be the largest in history and twice the size it was when President Bush came into office. “We’ve seen a turn of the tide in terms of illegal immigration,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the House Homeland Security Committee this month, citing a “substantial” decline in apprehension of illegal immigrants crossing the border.