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Saturday, May 20, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

There are numerous reasons why I find much of the current rhetoric on immigration to be nothing more than so much hot air (for example see here). One of them is that it seems that rational empirical analysis doesn’t seem to have much to do with the conversation.

For example, I had noted (but not comment upon at the time) a number of folks talking about the sheer numbers of immigrants that would be flooding into the US if the Senate got its way on the matter. Indeed, there was some chart that was deployed on the Senate floor showing some massive projections of the numbers going forward. I recall several references to 93 million new immigrants as a result of the legislation.

Now, part of the reason I did not comment at the time was that I did not have the time to get into the numbers, and still haven’t, but something struck me about the 93-100 million figure that was being bandied about: the current population of Mexico is only 107,449,525 (as estimated for July 2006 by the CIA). It would seem, therefore, that many of those oppossed to immigration reform are arguing that essentially the entire current population of Mexico will be moving to the US if the Senate/President’s verison of immigration policy is put into practice. That strikes me as, well, absurd.

Now, I recognize that not all immigrants come from Mexico, but let’s face facts: the current debate is primarily (if not exclusively in a practical sense) about the immigration of Mexicans. Far and away the largest subgroup of immigrants is from Mexico and and most of the 11-ish million estimated illegal aliens in the US are Mexican.

Therefore, if the current population of Mexico is around 100 million, how in the name of goodness and light can we be projecting a likely 100 million immigrants in the next 20 years of the policy?

Can you say “scaremongering”? I bet you can.

I do understand population growth, but please.

The only readily available example of the concern over the flood of immigrants is from the Heritage Foundation from a link left by a commenter: Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants over the Next Twenty Years.

Let’s just say I am currently quite skeptical of the “analysis.”

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2 Responses to “We’ll be Flooded With Immigrants!”

  1. Alan Kellogg Says:

    So, in ten years Mexico empties out, with everybody moving here. You know what that means? That’s right, more territory we could settle and claim for the U.S.A.

  2. LaurenceB Says:

    I heard this the other day on the Laura Ingraham show. But, the number she was touting was not 93 million, but 193 million! Obviously, I had the same reaction you did (being a sane person who knows the population of Mexico).

    If you look at the “study” from the Heritage Foundation you can see what Laura Ingraham was talking about – according to the “study”, the worst case scenario is indeed 193 million! While the projected figure is 100 million (now revised down to 66 million after recent changes to the bill). Needless to say, these numbers are absurd.

    Here’s what the White House had to say about the Heritage Foundation estimate:

    Setting The Record Straight:

    Heritage Foundation Report Overestimates Legal Immigration Increase Under Senate Immigration Bill

    A Heritage Foundation Report Claims The Hagel-Martinez Senate Immigration Bill (S. 2611) Would Lead To An Additional 84 Million New Legal Immigrants Over 20 Years. (Robert Rector, “Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants Over the Next Twenty Years,” Heritage Foundation, 5/15/06, Available At: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/wm1076.cfm)

    But A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Analysis Of The Hagel-Martinez Bill Found It Would Increase The U.S. Population By 8 Million People Over The First 10 Years – A Fraction Of The Heritage Report’s Claim. CBO’s estimate is more consistent with most research on immigration issues. The Heritage Report also takes a static approach to the immigration issue, failing to adjust for any changes in immigration patterns over the next 20 years.

    The Heritage Foundation Report Overestimates The Number Of Immigrants For Three Reasons:

    1. The Report Overestimates The Number Of Illegal Immigrants Who Become Legal Immigrants And Remain In The United States Permanently.

    2. The Report Does Not Account For The Many Immigrants Who Will Later Choose To Emigrate From The United States.

    3. The Report Counts Some New Immigrants Twice – First As Guest Workers And Then Again As Green Card Holders.

    1. The Heritage Foundation Report Overestimates The Number Of Illegal Immigrants Who Would Be Legalized

    The Heritage Foundation Report Assumes That 10 Million Illegal Immigrants Would Be Legalized. (Robert Rector, “Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants Over the Next Twenty Years,” Heritage Foundation, 5/15/06, Available At: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/wm1076.cfm)

    But The Report Overestimates The Senate Bill’s Increase In The Number Of Illegal Immigrants Who Would Be Able To Stay Permanently In The United States.

    ¢ CBO Estimates That About 1 Million Illegal Immigrants Would Become Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) Under Current Law – Not Because Of Hagel-Martinez.

    ¢ CBO Estimates That About One Third Of Illegal Immigrants Eligible For Legalization Under Hagel-Martinez Are Unlikely To Become Legal Permanent Residents.

    ¢ The Heritage Report Overestimates The Number Of Spouses And Children Brought Into The United States By Legalized Immigrants. The Heritage report assumes that 10 million illegal immigrants who become legalized would then bring an additional 6 million spouses and children into the United States. Since the number of legalized illegal immigrants is likely to be much smaller, however, there are likely to be fewer spouses and children.

    2. The Heritage Foundation Report Wrongly Assumes That Immigrants Will Not Leave

    The Heritage Foundation Report Does Not Account For Emigration Out Of The United States. (Robert Rector, “Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants Over the Next Twenty Years,” Heritage Foundation, 5/15/06, Available At: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/wm1076.cfm)

    Many Immigrants Later Emigrate From The United States – Emigration Rates May Be About 25 To 30 Percent. For instance, in estimating the fiscal impact of immigration, the National Research Council used an emigration rate of 30 percent.

    3. The Heritage Foundation Report Double Counts Some Immigrants First As Guest Workers And Then As New Legal Permanent Residents

    In Its Estimate Of New Legal Immigrants, The Heritage Foundation Adds Its Prediction Of New Guest Workers To Its Prediction Of New Green Card Holders. The Heritage Foundation report claims that the guest worker program established under Hagel-Martinez would lead to about 44.6 million new guest workers and family members. It adds together this number and its estimate of an additional 18.6 million green cards as part of its overall estimate of the number of new immigrants. (Robert Rector, “Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants Over the Next Twenty Years,” Heritage Foundation, 5/15/06, Available At: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/wm1076.cfm)

    But By Including Both Guest Workers And New Green Card Holders In Its Overall Estimate, The Heritage Report Counts Some New Immigrants Twice. The Heritage Foundation Report double-counts guest workers and family members who get green cards, first when they become guest workers and then a second time when they get a green card.


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