Myth #1: Violence along the border is spiraling out of control.
In April, a dozen members of Congress, of both parties, argued for stricter border security because "the level of violence along the border continues to increase." That was followed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that authorities had found headless bodies in the desert, which turned out to be urban legend.
Perhaps such assumptions are logical given the drug violence raging in Mexico and the stresses of a weak economy. But the facts don't support the claims. For instance, FBI reports and Arizona police statistics show crime rates in the three largest Arizona cities along the Mexican border — Yuma, Nogales and Douglas — have remained essentially flat for the past decade, The Arizona Republic reported in May. According to FBI crime reports reviewed by the Associated Press, violent crimes in Southwest border counties dropped more than 30% in the past two decades. Further, the nation's four safest big cities are San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin —all in border states.
Myth #2: Illegal immigration is surging to record numbers.
In fact, the number of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border has steadily dropped this decade. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, estimated Mexican migration declined from 605,000 in 2000 to 175,000 in 2008.
The number of illegal immigrants in the USA is also down, from nearly 12 million in 2007 to less than 11 million last year, according to the Homeland Security Department, mostly because the recession has wiped out jobs that draw immigrants.
None of this is to say that illegal immigration isn't a big problem. It is. Many industries continue to depend on illegal labor. And after previous recessions, illegal border crossings have quickly returned to previous levels.
Such persistent failure to take the problem seriously is why today's mood is so hostile and why Arizona passed a law committing its own enforcement resources to do what the federal government has not.
Unfortunately, it did so in a clumsy way that seems certain to invite racial profiling. The federal government then over-reached, suing to block the law before any actual offense occurred. Judge Bolton bought the federal argument, and now the appeals process is off and running, probably toward the Supreme Court.
In the best case, the ultimate ruling would inspire the kind of cool-headed, balanced solution that difficult problems demand. Unlike previous reforms, it would include credible border and workplace enforcement. That, in turn, should be enough to justify a guest-worker program, and a rigorous path to legality for those already here who stay out of trouble and pay fines and back taxes.
Someday that will happen, regardless of the Arizona law's fate. Overheated political rhetoric and fear rooted in fiction just prolong the unhappy status quo.
That argument is irrelevant when the issue becomes assault (with only the worst cases being reported) and murder.
We shouldn't exaggerate these problems. Mexican immigration, says the Borjas-Katz study, has played only a "modest role" in growing U.S. inequality. And the political threat that low-skill immigration poses to the welfare state is more serious than the fiscal threat: the disastrous Medicare drug bill alone does far more to undermine the finances of our social insurance system than the whole burden of dealing with illegal immigrants.
....Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in the United States vary widely. A conservative estimate in 1972 produced a figure of about one million, but the INS now suggests there may be as many as 10 or 12 million aliens illegally in the country. Whatever the number, these aliens create significant economic and social problems, competing with citizens and legal resident [422 U.S. 873, 879] aliens for jobs, and generating extra demand for social services.
...So there you go---I did refer to Krugman, and he isn't saying what your selective quote suggests he is saying.
Don't you see the corollary to that, Krugman must be so confused as to be contradicting himself within a single page of text
High Seas wrote:Don't you see the corollary to that, Krugman must be so confused as to be contradicting himself within a single page of text
I think Krugman was being thoughtful, not contradicting himself. ...