Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson recently promised Arizonans during a tele-town hall that, if elected, he could get a double-fenced, 2,000-mile wall built on the U.S.-Mexico border within a year.
One of his rivals for the GOP nomination, billionaire Donald Trump, would like a wall, too, and he also wants to create a massive "deportation force" that would, um, "humanely" remove more than 11 million undocumented immigrants from the United States.
Arizona Congressional candidate and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who hosted Carson in the above-mentioned tele-town hall, practically is a one-issue candidate, forever berating President Obama on Twitter and elsewhere for having "created an open border in our nation."
And Governor Doug Ducey recently created a super-sexy Arizona Border Strike Force Bureau within the state Department of Public Safety to fulfill his campaign pledge to do everything in his power to help secure the Arizona-U.S. border.
Almost universally, Republicans deride President Obama's immigration policies as "amnesty," despite his having deported more than 2 million illegal immigrants since taking office, more than any other president in U.S. history.
In fact, according to a new study, not only is immigration from Mexico down, but it has practically reversed, with more Mexicans leaving the U.S. than entering it.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and from Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography, the Pew Research Center estimates that from 2009 to 2014, the number of Mexicans emigrating to this country was about 870,000.
During the same time period, the PRC found that about 1 million people went the opposite way, returning to Mexico from the U.S., a net minus.
Interestingly, some of these 1 million were U.S. citizens born in this country to undocumented parents, whom the nativist right derides as "anchor babies."
The PRC's summary of its new report explains that:
Among the 1 million migrants returning to Mexico from the U.S., there were 720,000 who had been residing in the U.S. in 2009 and were living in Mexico in 2014. An additional 180,000 were recent migrants who were living in Mexico in 2009 but left for the U.S. and came back to Mexico between 2009 and 2014. And an additional 100,000 were children under the age of 5 who had been born in the U.S. and were living in Mexico in 2014.
There are several reasons for the phenomenon, according to the PRC study, which cites a 2014 survey from the Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics, showing that 61 percent of returnees said they had done so to reunite with families or to start a family.
Six percent said they had relocated for economic reasons while 14 percent said they had been deported from the United States.
The Great Recession definitely played a role, according to the report, though mostly early on in the 2009-2014 period, when more returnees cited not being able to find a job as a reason for going back. Also, the report notes that, despite the claims of many Republicans, there has been a substantial decline in undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S., which "partly reflects tougher enforcement at the southwest border."
In 2014, the PRC says, there were about 5.6 million undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S., compared to the 6.9 million residing in the U.S. in 2007.
There are also some shifting perceptions in Mexico about living in the U.S., according to a PRC poll done in Mexico, with 33 percent of respondents saying, "Life is neither better nor worse north of the border."
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Still, America's appeal to Mexicans remains strong. The PRC states, "The percentage of Mexicans who are inclined to move to the U.S. remains steady at roughly a third (35%), which includes 20% who say they would do so without authorization, while 14% say they would only do it with authorization."
True, not all Republicans cop a nativist stance on immigration. A Pew poll of Americans done earlier this year showed that 56 percent of Republicans "say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay in this country legally if they meet certain requirements."
Ohio Governor John Kasich, in particular, has been critical of the nativists in his party, blasting Trump's plan of mass deportations as "silly," and cruel in a recent GOP debate.
"If people think that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law abiding, who are in this country, and somehow pick them up in their house and ship them out to Mexico, think about the families, think about the children," he admonished.
But for the moment, the loudest voices in the Republican room belong to the meanest and the nuttiest.