Unfortunately, We Don’t Live in a World Where Facts Matter

In a world where facts mattered, Pew Research Center would have just provided us with some important information.

* The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on 2016 government data.

* There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the new estimates.

* The declining overall number of unauthorized immigrants is due mainly to a very large drop in the number of new unauthorized immigrants, especially Mexicans, coming into the country.

* In the opposite direction, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Central America increased by 375,000 over the same 2007 to 2016 period.

* Increasingly unauthorized immigrants are likely to be long-term U.S. residents: Two-thirds of adult unauthorized immigrants have lived in the country for more than 10 years.

* Overall, between 2007 and 2016, the unauthorized immigrant population shrank by 13%.

In summary, fewer unauthorized immigrants are crossing our southern border than at any time since 2004 and the vast majority of those who are currently in the country have been here for more than 10 years.

Unfortunately we have a president who says things like, “my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.” So facts about immigration don’t seem to have a place in our discourse these days. Instead we’re treated to daily outrages that come at us so fast it is often hard to keep up. In just the last few days we’ve seen:

  • Border patrol agents tear gassing parents and their children,
  • An administration that forgoes background checks for staff working at a migrant detention facility for teens—the equivalent of putting up a “Pedophiles Welcome” sign at their recruiting office,
  • A continuation of the family separation policy that is based on accusing parents of being gang members with zero evidence.

That is because everything this president says and everything his administration does when it comes to immigration is based on racist lies, as the Pew data so clearly demonstrates.

While the situation with the migrant caravan was developing, there were pundits who suggested that Democrats need to step up to the plate and join in a discussion about what policies should be implemented to deal with the situation. That would be like me saying, “The sky is falling, everyone take cover” and then expecting those who know it’s not true to make suggestions about what kind of structure would provide the most effective shelter. The appropriate response would be to tell me to STFU.

The truth is that, when it comes to immigration, the Democrats have embraced a common-sense set of reforms since 2013 when the so-called “Gang of Eight” crafted a bipartisan proposal. The latest data from Pew only reinforce the wisdom of that approach. But right now we have a president and opposition party that is intent on screaming about how the sky is falling. Until they are shown the door and rational adults are put in charge, there’s not much that can be done other than to tell them to STFU.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .