This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Immigration on the Front Page

Given the massive amount of trouble in the world, it is really quite remarkable that immigration is on the front page of news outlets in the U.S. With President Obama in Texas today, the issue is especially visible. I can only hope that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was not really serious in blaming Obama for the current influx of women and children, and unaccompanied minors. In the midst of this noise, I was very happy yesterday to run across an extremely detailed and well-written analysis of the immigration problem from Ben Casselman, writing for Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website-"Immigration Is Changing Much More Than the Immigration Debate." The story nicely summarizes the patterns of immigration to this country over time, correctly noting that the percent of foreigners in the country (13 percent) is "nearing an historic high." We are almost back to where we were a century ago. This means, of course, that it is the highest level experienced by people today, even if not in American history. However, this is not all coming from Mexico and Central America. Using data from the IPUMS database, he shows that:
As immigration from Mexico has been falling, migration from other countries has continued to rise. In the past five years, the number of new immigrants (those in the country less than a year) from China has risen 37 percent, to more than 70,000. Immigration from India and other Asian countries is also increasing, though at a more modest rate.
As a result, Asia has surpassed Latin America as the dominant source of new immigrants to the U.S. Asia accounted for 45 percent of all new immigrants in 2012, compared to 34 percent for Latin America. Mexico is still the largest single country of origin for new immigrants, but its lead is shrinking fast: Mexico accounts for 14 percent of all new immigrants, down from 45 percent in 2000. India, meanwhile, now accounts for 12 percent, and China for 10 percent.
Drawing on data from Pew Research, he reviews recent trends in undocumented immigration, which is increasingly less likely to be from Mexico:





The question of what to do about existing undocumented immigrants remains highly relevant. There are nearly 12 million of them here, close to an all-time high. But at least for much of the past few years, the issue of securing the border has been all but moot: Between 2007 and 2012, more undocumented workers left the country than entered it.
This is important, in my opinion, and we need to spread this kind of sensible message. My own Congressman, Duncan Hunter, has followed in his father's footsteps in pushing for double-layered fencing all along the border. It is true that the fencing here in San Diego has worked--by pushing would-be border crossers into ever-more dangerous mountain or desert areas. Even if this were a good idea, we are stuck with a House of Representatives that does not want to spend the money to make even a good attempt to "seal the border" because it refuses to raise the taxes that would pay for such things. With luck, the reality may be that we don't need to be spending that money, anyway.

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