Mike Kueber's Blog

April 26, 2012

Illegal immigration and racial profiling

An article in today’s San Antonio Express-News reported on a shocking report from the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington-based nonpartisan research group.  According to the article, between 2005 and 2010, more Mexicans left America (1.39 million) than came to America (1.37 million).  By contrast, between 1995 and 2000 670k Mexicans left America and 2.94 million came to America.

The Pew report does not provide an explanation for this dramatic shift in in immigration (legal and illegal combined), but it speculates that the cause was the declining availability of jobs in an American economy that was struggling with a recession, plus the increased border security and the improved Mexican economy. 

There was additional information in the report that I found even more interesting:

  • At 12 million, Mexicans are the dominant immigrant nationality in America, but more than half of them are here illegally. 
  • No other country in the world has as many as 12 million immigrants of all nationalities combined.  This fact shows how attractive America has been as a destination for foreigners and how relatively open our doors are.
  • The number of illegal Mexican immigrants in America peaked in 2007 at 7 million, and that number had dropped to 6.1 million by 2011.
  • The total number of legal Mexican immigrants in America dropped between 2007 and 2011, but the number in Texas increased during that time.
  • The number of legal Mexican immigrants increased from 5.6 million in 2007 to 5.8 million in 2011.

This information regarding the predominance of Mexican illegal immigrants relates to another issue that we the subject of a Washington Post op-ed piece earlier in the week.  The Post’s op-ed piece was written by a Louisiana judge who pointed out the obvious – i.e., law-enforcement personnel who are attempting to identify illegal immigrants will pay more attention to individuals who look like Mexicans or are brown-skinned.  The judge went on to argue that such conduct amounts to illegal racial profiling, and he is hoping the Supreme Court review of the Arizona illegal-immigrant law will put a definitive end to it.

As a practical person, I am reluctant to discard a valuable enforcement tool.  The essential question is whether the value of the enforcement tool exceeds the cost to members of the group that will be scrutinized more closely merely because of their skin color.  This is an exceedingly complicated, subjective question, and I think the U.S. Supreme Court is supremely qualified to conduct an analysis and render a decision.  Unlike the Louisiana judge, however, I will not prejudge their decision and instead will look forward to reading their analysis.





1 Comment »

  1. As an American, who has been living in Mexico for 17 years, I find it unfair that Mexicans can immigrate (legally or illegally) to America and get the benefits that I can not get here in Mexico. The American taxpayers are providing immigrants with medical benefits, welfare, etc.: yet, as an American living and working legally in Mexico, we have no benefits whatsoever. No matter how long we live here, we are still considered “foreigners”. If I were to apply for a job at Jack in the Box in the U.S., and the other applicant was a minority, they would get the job, not me. Just saying…

    Comment by Kari Lowe — April 26, 2012 @ 2:32 am | Reply

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