Deporting Illegal Residents is Not Punishment
As the presidential candidate debates continue to focus on immigration and the willingness or unwillingness of the candidates to enforce the law against those residing illegally in the country, increasingly apologists for the illegal residents say that deportation is not an option because there are too many to deport. And they say that illegal residents including criminal aliens who are released after serving their punishment should not be deported because that would be double punishment.A new report by the Pew Research Center bears on these contrived arguments. According to data from the Mexican government, between 2009 and 2014 a million Mexicans who had been residing in the United States returned to reside in Mexico. Included in that number were accompanying children born in the United States, as they are also considered by the Mexican government to be Mexican citizens. This number of returnees included 14 percent who acknowledged they had been deported while most cited family reunification as the reason for their return.The Mexican data do not identify how many of those who returned voluntarily for family reunification were illegally residing in the United States, but it is reasonable to assume that they included a significant number. Their voluntary return to Mexico implies that they did not consider it a hardship or punishment.The data point to the preparation of persons who come here illegally to eventually return to their home country and to return as a family unit.The argument of the defenders of illegal residents that deportation of 11 to 12 million persons (or more) is the only way to remove them is disingenuous, as they no doubt know. The argument that deportation will only result in separation of “mixed-status” families is also false despite their ability to produce a few poster cases of illegal residents who will make that claim. Family separation happens when a migrant leaves his family to move to the United States. Rather than then assuming that the only place the family can be reunited is in the United States, the Mexican data demonstrate the willingness of Mexicans to return to Mexico to reunite the family. That is seen as a positive benefit, not a punishment.