MAY
2019
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Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
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Frank Bernheisel
Posted 1.5.19
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

ABOUT THOSE MIGRANTS

Illegal immigration into the United States ha,s been steadily declining since 2007 as shown in the chart from the Pew Research Center. In 2015 there were about 43.3 million foreign-born people living in the U.S. of whom about half are naturalized U.S. citizens. Only about one quarter of the foreign-born, 11.1 million are unauthorized migrants according to Pew Research Center, and 75 percent are here legally.

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Contrary to the political rants, not all of the 43.3 million foreign-born people in the U.S. come from Mexico and Central America. The table shows the distribution in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the Migration Policy Institute.

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Of the 12.1 million from South or East Asia, several countries are prominently represented: China, 2.7 million; India, 2.4 million; Philippines, 2.0; and Vietnam, 1.3 million. Further, the Center for Migration Studies estimates that 44 percent of the 11.1 million living in the U.S. illegally in 2015 were visa overstays. This group of 4.9 million probably flew into LAX or JFK with their legal visa and just did not go home when their visa expired.

President Trump has made a big deal of what happens at the southern border of the U.S. He made sure we were all watching the caravan in 2018 as it progressed north with its 1,600 migrants, then 3,000, then 6,000; we were entranced. On November 23, mayor of Tijuana Juan Manuel Gastélum declared a humanitarian crisis in response to the 5,000 members of the caravan were in Tijuana, a city of 1.4 million.

Just how many people do we have attacking the southern border? We may never know, but according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security and has over 58,000 employees, the number of apprehensions has been declining since 2000.

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This is not to say there is not a problem with migrants to the U.S. Some of the countries of concern are those in Central America including: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. (This is not an exhaustive list but meant to illustrate the situation.) These countries have high poverty, poor governance, high crime, poor education and high birth rates. Newsweek summarized the aid from the U.S. to these countries as shown in the following table. In every case U.S. involvement with Central American countries has gone down as shown by the reduction of U.S. federal government aid.

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In 2017 the aid to these countries totaled $308 million and for 2019 will drop to $181 million. President Trump wants $5 billion to build a wall like that the Chinese built to keep the Mongols out (that did not work but it is a terrific tourist attraction).

Maybe, the $5 billion would be better spent on aid, which enhances education, improves policing, strengthens governmental institutions, improves infrastructure and -- heaven forbid -- assists family planning.

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