And if so, why?

The Center for Immigration Studies, the anti-immigrant center that generates studies for FAIR and other anti-immigrant groups, has released a report claiming that the number of people illegally present in the US has declined by nearly 1,300,000 over the last year, a decline the group believes is about 11%. The report credits tougher enforcement measures for the decrease.

In the mean time, pro-immigrant groups are firing back disputing the reports findings and arguing that even if they are true, the declines would be related to the downturn in the US economy. As the economy contracts, the demand for foreign workers should decline as well.

The American Immigration Law Foundation issued a statement criticizing the CIS report:

"CIS implies that the illegal immigrant
population could drop to half of what it is now within the next five
years if only presidential candidates keep silent about the details of
comprehensive immigration reform, taxpayers continue to pour billions
of dollars into enforcement, and the U.S. economic recession
persists--according to CIS, reducing illegal immigration apparently
comes with a cruel price tag.


Most researchers agree
that undocumented immigration to the United States is driven largely by
economics.  Yet, in a new report entitled Homeward Bound: Recent
Immigration Enforcement and the Decline in the Illegal Alien
Population, CIS dubiously claims that undocumented immigrants decide
where to live and work based more on the politics of immigration
enforcement than the economics of their own survival.  CIS concludes
that the recent decline in the "likely illegal population" (which it
defines as less-educated, foreign-born Hispanics age 18 to 40) is
largely the result of new immigration-enforcement efforts rather than
the downturn of the U.S. economy, including job losses in the construction sector that had been absorbing many less-skilled Hispanic immigrants. 


The persuasiveness of CIS' argument is undermined not only by an
absence of hard data, but by the faulty logic and contradictory
statements of the report itself.  The authors report confidently about
a population that is nearly impossible to accurately measure.  They
admit they did not include data about any population other than
Hispanics.  They provide no evidence for their assertion that the
immigration debate in Congress last summer spurred an increase in
undocumented immigration. 


CIS provides no real solutions to the nation's immigration problems.
They insult thoughtful Americans when they seemingly hope for continued
unemployment and recession, promote harsh enforcement measures that
separate families and destroy communities, and suggest that politicians
should not even talk about real solutions.  By requiring undocumented
immigrants to come forward, legalize their status, and learn English,
we would strengthen the rule of law and turn undocumented immigrants
into taxpayers.  The U.S. must enact a practical, fair, and reasonable
solution that includes smart enforcement measures."