by Michael Barone
Evidence keeps accumulating that the tide of immigration is ebbing. Tough enforcement laws passed by states like Arizona and Oklahoma and localities like Prince William County, Va., have reportedly spurred Latino immigrants to move elsewhere. Tougher enforcement of federal immigration laws may be having the same effect.
Classrooms in Orange County, Calif., are suddenly half-empty. Latino day laborers seem to be less thick on the ground at their morning gathering places. Remittances to Mexico and other Latin countries are down, and men are returning to some villages from the United States.
Latinos appear to account for a disproportionate share of mortgage foreclosures. The Census Bureau estimates that net immigration in 2007-08 was 14 percent lower than the average for 2000-07, and those estimates don't cover the period after June 30, when the recession really started hitting.
Since Congress considered and failed to pass a comprehensive law in 2006 and 2007, we have learned that tougher enforcement of existing law is possible and can reduce illegal immigration.
Now we face a sharply different economic situation, which is presumably less conducive to immigration. This may make the need for a comprehensive law less pressing and at the same time make it politically more palatable.