Thursday, October 9, 2008

The word “attrition”or a reduction in numbers aptly describes the state of illegal immigration today. Illegal immigration in the United States is on a slow decline - and enforcement and unemployment are playing significant roles. Unemployment surged up to 6.1 percent in September, according to the Department of Labor. In fact, the overall gloomy economic picture may be providing fewer enticements.

A major source of employment for illegal aliens, the construction industry and home-remodel business, are on the decline. Illegal immigrants are also employed in the blue-collar production and service sectors, which have also been effected.

In addition, tightened enforcement measures have discouraged illegal immigrants from staying in the United States. Still, border enforcement, workplace crackdowns, the threat of deportation and greater social awareness have not worked alone to push down illegal alien numbers.

The Pew Hispanic Center said that the unemployment rate among Hispanics had risen to 7.5 percent during the first quarter of 2008. There are an estimated 11.9 million illegal aliens living in America and 7 million of them are from Mexico, according to the Center; or 56 percent of non-citizen households are Hispanic. Moreover, the annual median income of all U.S. family households increased 1.3 percent while non citizen households decreased by 7.3 percent from 2006-07.

Communities have also become aware of the fact that illegal immigrants do not simply provide cheap labor. The cost of them living here burdens local communities - their schools, roads, hospitals, etc. So, even if businesses and households that employ illegal aliens pay them salaries commensurate for a measurable standard of, say, housing, the bottomline is that local communities must bare the costs of everything else, as the president of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) told The Washington Times editorial board. This is a notable fact during an election year. “Politicans should take amnesty off the table completely if they want to find a solution and start talking about real solutions to America’s immigration crisis,” FAIR’s Mr. Stein said.

Prince William County in Northern Virginia is an example. The county’s leaders approved a resolution last year to decrease easy access to public services for illegal immigrants and to increase immigration enforcement measures. Illegal immigrants very quickly began to leave the area as they were fearful that they would be caught. In the meantime, a group called the Capital Area Alliance Against Illegal Immigration has formed to end taxpayer funded programs that aid illegal immigrants. The group is made up of grass-roots organizations from the Virginia and Maryland area. Members of the group do not want illegal immigrants coming to their areas as they leave Prince William. “Prince William County is an example of the emerging state and federal partnership that is required to stop illegal immigration, states need to set up policies that are consistent with federal policy, the states need to not incentivize it,” said Mr. Stein.

During the presidential debate on Tuesday both candidates talked a lot - mostly about the economy and foreign policy. Barack Obama discussed a rescue package for the middle class and Mr. McCain talked about another bailout, this time for American homeowners. And both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain talked health-care reform. Yet the candidates fail to embrace such domestic issues as how free public services for illegals are hurting local and state economies - and, just as important, how illegal immigration hurts our national security and threatens our economy. The candidates should be challenged.

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