The Perpetual Border Battle

By Krikorian, Mark | The National Interest, July-August 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Perpetual Border Battle


Krikorian, Mark, The National Interest


A narrative is taking root among policy makers and opinion leaders that the illegal-immigration problem has been resolved and further concern over the issue is simply unnecessary. A New York Times op-ed by University of Southern California professor Dowell Myers exemplified this perspective when it began: "The immigration crisis that has roiled American politics for decades has faded into history."

This idea of complete resolution is highly dubious. There is no doubt that the number of people sneaking across the southern U.S. border has declined significantly, and the total illegal population has dropped somewhat from the record high of several years ago. But there is little reason to conclude this is a permanent development ushering in a new migration paradigm for the United States. More likely, it is merely a pause brought on by the U.S. economic slump and other factors on both sides of the border.

Indeed, it could be argued that the current lull in illegal immigration is just the end of the beginning. The United States has made progress toward the first goal of a sensible immigration policy--namely, developing the means to make an enforcement policy stick. But the country has barely begun the process of crafting a comprehensive immigration policy that has a chance of actually working--or even deciding what such a comprehensive policy should be. Thus, the New York Times op-ed had it wrong, and this issue is certain to roil American politics for decades to come.

Those on both sides of the issue have valid points in the ongoing debate, and, of course, they also have distinctive policy prescriptions that flow from their conclusions and outlooks. And while it may be too early to tell how long the current lull will last (assuming it hasn't already ended), assessing these policy prescriptions requires us to examine in some detail the state of illegal immigration, the reasons for the current situation and possible future developments.

There's broad agreement that the illegal-immigrant population peaked in 2007 and declined for the next two years. The three main sources of estimates--the Department of Homeland Security, the Pew Hispanic Center and the Center for Immigration Studies--all conclude that in 2007, the illegal population neared or exceeded twelve million (the estimates range from 11.8 to 12.5 million) and declined to roughly eleven million (between 10.8 and 11.1 million) by 2009. The decline stopped after 2009, so until new estimates or new facts are developed, it's safe to say that there are currently about eleven million unauthorized residents of the United States. Dramatically higher numbers sometimes bandied about by commentators and politicians--such as a 2005 estimate by Bear Stearns analysts that the illegal population could be as high as twenty million--are almost certainly incorrect. If the number were that high, it would be reflected in birth and death records, since in a modern society such as ours almost no one is born or dies without that fact being administratively recorded, and we have a pretty good idea of the fertility and mortality rates of the illegal population.

It seems clear that illegal crossings at the border, known formally as entries without inspection, are also down. Although illegal entry is not the only source of illegal immigrants--perhaps 40 percent of the illegal population entered legally on some kind of visa and then overstayed--it is the main source, and there's a lot less of it. The only administrative metric available for illegal crossings is the number of apprehensions made by the Border Patrol. This is an imperfect yardstick; a drop in apprehensions could mean there are fewer illegal immigrants available for agents to catch, or it could mean that the Border Patrol is becoming less efficient at finding them. Likewise, the total apprehensions number includes people who attempt to cross multiple times, though such recidivism appears to have declined slightly.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Perpetual Border Battle
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.