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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Monday, January 7, 2019

The Crisis at the Border is Different Than Trump Claims

Yes, there is a crisis at the border, and it is almost entirely created by the Trump Administration, as the Washington Post recently noted. As a result of insufficient funding even in good times--made massively worse by the current government shutdown affecting agencies like Homeland Security--there are too few resources to process asylum seekers, so they sit in camps and get sick (and some die). All of the other stuff that Donald Trump likes to talk about is mostly false, as pointed out by Op-Ed pieces published the past few days by highly acclaimed demographers who actually do know what they are talking about.

The first of these was written by Dr. Rogelio Saenz, Professor of Demography at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune. His main point is that we are trying to curtail migration from Latin America at precisely the same time that is had already reached a nearly historic low. What does that mean for the average American? Well, who's going to pick your crops, who's going to work in your restaurants, who's going to do your yard work? We have, in truth, exploited undocumented immigrants for our mutual benefit for a long time, and we will pay the price for their absence. You could call that a crisis...

The second piece was was written by Dr. Dudley Poston, Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University and was published in the San Antonio Express-News. He focuses especially on the wall:
Trump’s wall won’t work. It won’t reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and could well have the opposite effect. Plus, it won’t stop drugs and contraband from entering the U.S.

Let me tell you why.

Almost one-quarter of the 44 million people living in the U.S. who were born in another country, or about 10.7 million people, are undocumented immigrants. These are the immigrants Trump wants deported. But he apparently doesn’t know that more than two-fifths of these undocumented immigrants, or almost 4.5 million, are visa overstayers. They entered the U.S. with legal passports and legal visas but either stayed past their visa expiration dates or otherwise violated the terms of their admission into the U.S., perhaps by accepting employment. Most flew in legally from Asia, Europe and other continents, and entered at major airports in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and elsewhere. Trump’s wall won’t be high enough to keep them out. There is no plan to address the issue of visa overstayers. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not match entry and exit records of people coming into and leaving the U.S. The 5 million to 6 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are not visa overstayers are formally referred to by demographers and immigration officials as EWIs, persons who “entered without inspection.” They entered the U.S. without detection or used fraudulent documents when crossing the border. Almost all of them entered at the U.S.-Mexico border, and until recently most of them were from Mexico. Now, most are from Central America.

Demographers have conducted extensive research about EWIs. They are not criminals, and they don’t take jobs from U.S.-born Americans. Almost all EWIs end up doing work Americans don’t want to do. Demographers have found little, if any, evidence that EWIs harm or suppress the employment or wages of local people.
A wall will not work any better than the existing security arrangements along the border to stop EWIs or to stop the flow of drugs from South America into the U.S. Most of those drugs come through the regular ports of entry in cars and trucks--no matter what Trump may say. 

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