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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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.

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Immigration "Ideas" Among Republican Candidates for President

Last night was the first "debate" (really, a Q&A, not a debate) among the candidates leading the polls in the quest for the Republican nomination for US President. To be fair and balanced about it, the Fox News moderators, led by Megan Kelly, actually did a pretty good job of framing questions and trying to put candidates on the spot. I was pleasantly surprised on that score. I was unpleasantly unsurprised, however, about the response to questions about immigration and immigration reform. Donald Trump continued to spout his vitriol about migrants from Mexico, again suggesting that the Mexican government was sending over criminals on purpose [as Castro did a few decades ago]. If you want the fact-checking on that, go to a brand new analysis of ACS data on immigration put together by my long-time friend at UT-San Antonio, Rogelio Saenz (and thanks to other long-time friend Rubén Rumbaut for linking me to this). The reality is that the SES of recent migrants from Mexico is going up, not down--almost certainly in response to people in Mexico fleeing the cartel violence there if they have the means to do so.

And, speaking of violence, the idea that immigrants from Mexico are criminals and so we have to make sure that we "shut the door" just isn't true, as Professor Rumbaut has convincingly shown us in his research.

The person on last night's panel who seemed to know most about the current undocumented migration situation was Marco Rubio, who correctly noted that migration from Mexico is way down compared to a few years ago, whereas migration from violence-prone areas of Central America has been rising. He did not, however, draw the important conclusion--these people are fleeing violence at home, they are not contributing to it in the U.S. Nor does anyone want to talk about the fact that at least some of the violence in Central America is caused by people learning how to be violent while living in the U.S., and then exporting that back to Central America. This is a complicated situation and simple ideas will not prevail, no matter how much we wish they might.

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