From The New York Times:
By DOWELL MYERS
January 11, 2012
LOS ANGELES — THE immigration crisis that has roiled American politics for decades has faded into history. Illegal immigration is shrinking to a trickle, if that, and will likely never return to the peak levels of 2000. Just as important, immigrants who arrived in the 1990s and settled here are assimilating in remarkable and unexpected ways.
Taken together, these developments, and the demographic future they foreshadow, require bold changes in our approach to both legal and illegal immigration. Put simply, we must shift from an immigration policy, with its emphasis on keeping newcomers out, to an immigrant policy, with an emphasis on encouraging migrants and their children to integrate into our social fabric. “Show me your papers” should be replaced with “Welcome to English class.”
Restrictionists, including those driving much of the debate on the Republican primary trail, still talk as if nothing has changed. But the numbers are stark: the total number of immigrants, legal and illegal, arriving in the 2000s grew at half the rate of the 1990s, according to the Census Bureau.
The most startling evidence of the falloff is the effective disappearance of illegal border crossers from Mexico, with some experts estimating the net number of new Mexicans settling in the United States at zero. The size of the illegal-immigrant population peaked in 2007, with about 58 percent of it of Mexican origin, according to the Pew Hispanic Center; since 2008, that population has shrunk by roughly 200,000 a year. Illegal immigrants from Asia and other parts of the globe have similarly dwindled in numbers.
This new equilibrium is here to stay, in large part because Mexico’s birthrate is plunging. In 1970 a Mexican woman, on average, gave birth to 6.8 babies, and when they entered their 20s, millions journeyed north for work. Today the country’s birthrate — at 2.1 — is approaching that of the United States. That portends a shrinking pool of young adults to meet Mexico’s future labor needs, and less competition for jobs at home. (more…)
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